Maquiladoras are manufacturing plants that assemble parts made elsewhere to produce items such as electronic equipment, clothes, auto parts, and appliances.
They are located in northern Mexico, mostly within a few miles of the U.S. border.
About 1 million Mexicans work in about 3,800 maquiladoras, which are owned primarily by U.S., Japanese, and European companies.
Most of the workers are young women between the ages of 14 and 20 who are generally paid less than $2 an hour to work 10-hour days, 5 or 6 days a week.
These plants take advantage of cheap labor costs in Mexico and easy access to U.S. trade routes.
The Mexican Government launched the Maquiladora Program, to help solve the problem of rising unemployment along the border.
The unemployment was a result of the termination of the Bracero Program, which allowed allowed Mexican agricultural workers to work legally in the US on a seasonal basis.
The word maquiladora or maquila, is Spanish in origin, and refers to the practice of millers charging a maquila, or “miller’s portion” for processing other people’s grain.