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Critics of Pacific Rim free trade agreement cite worries over jobs, immigration

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal opponents call for greater transparency

About 30 members of unions, immigrant rights groups and an environmental advocacy organization joined Wednesday to voice their concerns that a Pacific Rim free trade deal would reduce U.S. jobs and increase immigration to the country.

At a rally in City of Commerce, they also decried the lack of transparency in the pending negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation pact that does not include China.

“There needs to be a real exploration of what really are going to be the harms to working men and women,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

Many of the concerns about the contentious Pacific Rim trade deal stem from the aftermath of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Salas cited a 2005 World Bank study that found that increased global competition after NAFTA took effect led to extreme rural poverty in Mexico. She said the poverty there fueled an influx of Mexicans into the U.S., many of them without visas.

Proponents of the TPP have said the deal would benefit West Coast ports in California and a number of U.S. industries such as prescription drug makers and entertainment companies.

But critics argued that the trade deal is being created behind closed doors. They are calling for greater transparency and the release of the pact's text.

Maricella Reyes, a call center representative and member of the Communications Workers of America, said she is worried about the effect of the TPP on her job.

“We have good benefits and good pay,” she said. “We ask people to help us and keep the jobs here.”

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