We assess that high crime rates and weak job markets will spur additional U.S.-bound migrants from the Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Illicit migration northward from the region shows no signs of abating, despite increased messaging by governments to dissuade potential migrants and stepped-up immigration enforcement by Mexico. Many migrants apparently perceive that traveling in caravans on the journey north affords a certain level of security, and the decision to do so appears to result from a combination of individual motivation, encouragement from social media postings, and politically motivated efforts by some individuals and organizations.
- 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community
On June 1, 2019, Nayib Bukele was sworn in as El Salvador's president. He is the first president to be from outside the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the left-leaning Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) parties. Bukele ran on an anti-corruption platform and pledged to tackle crime and unemployment.
He also seems committed to building a better relationship with the United States, which is great news! With his help, we can achieve one of the most important recommendations in our immigration policy: To offer financial and governance help to countries destabilized by violence and poverty. This way, we can improve and protect the lives of people currently seeking asylum in the United States in their own countries.
We can practically hear the outrage this recommendation is causing across America. Knee-jerk reactions are kicking in so fast that people are practically tripping over themselves. Why in the world would we give money to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (i.e. "the so-called Northern Triangle") when we have our own troubles over here? We’ve got our own problems!
But think about it: At a time when the number of Central Americans crossing the southwest U.S. border continues to increase, is it really smart to cut their foreign aid? Which only makes the problem in those countries worse? Which will surely send even more people our way? Does that make sense to you? #thebutterflyeffect
We need to help these countries create safe environments, promote employment opportunities, and reduce poverty. For example, since 2008, the American government has supported security efforts in Central America through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). According to the Congressional Research Service, "the initiative provides the seven nations of the isthmus with equipment, training, and technical assistance to support immediate law enforcement operations. CARSI is also designed to strengthen the long-term capacities of Central American governments to address security challenges and the underlying social and political factors that contribute to them." From FY2008 to FY2015, the U.S. Congress appropriated nearly $1.2 billion for CARSI. Read the entire report here.
So obviously we are spending the money anyway. All we suggest is that we use that money more wisely.
The Congressional Research Service report goes on to warn: "Improving security conditions in the region will be a difficult, multifaceted endeavor. Central American leaders will need to address long-standing issues such as incomplete institutional reforms, precarious tax bases, and the lack of opportunities for young people. International donors will need to provide extensive support over an extended period of time. And all of the stakeholders involved will need to better coordinate their efforts to support comprehensive long-term strategies that strengthen institutions and address the root causes of citizen insecurity. Absent such efforts, conditions are likely to remain poor in several Central American countries, contributing to periodic instability that – as demonstrated by the increasing number of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees from the region arriving at the U.S. border – is likely to affect the United States."
These are serious issues and we desperately need to think more creatively. Approaching the unauthorized immigration problem by thinking outside the box – like improving the lives of people WITHIN THEIR OWN COUNTRY – never seemed to even cross the minds of people in the Trump administration. It is clear we think The Wall is ridiculous, but even if you are for it, you must admit that it was not that difficult to conceive. That concept is one of the first things preschool kids figure out with their Legos. Whether a potential solution is ultimately used or not, it is never a bad idea to at least consider creative, adventurous alternatives as opposed to consistently going back to ideas that continually fail.
Even though living in America is wonderful, many of those who cross the border would prefer to create a comfortable life in their own country with their families. Believe it or not, America is not the only country that embraces nationalism. If you are not convinced consider this: Even with the recent increase, border apprehensions in FY2018 are still way below where they were in the decades before. Over 1 million migrants were apprehended in 20 of the 24 years between 1983 to 2006. Some people would say that the Trump administration's atrocious behavior/policies have contributed to the decline in people crossing the border, but we are absolutely adamant they have not. In fact, as we said before, apprehensions actually ticked up in FY2018, which indicates that increased prosecutions, a major crack-down on asylum-seekers, and super harsh detention punishments are not a great deterrent for people who can't feed their children or are terrified for their lives.
Even though living conditions have greatly improved inside Mexico and there are now more U.S. border patrol agents, there is only one reason people have stopped coming into America in the same numbers: Economics. It is no coincidence that apprehensions at our border started to decline significantly in 2007, the year the credit crisis started to hit America. Even though living in America is wonderful, many of our southern neighbors who cross the border would prefer to create a comfortable life in Mexico with their families. Believe it or not, America is not the only country that embraces nationalism. The truth is this: If there are jobs available, people come over to fill them. If jobs are not available, many stay home.
This nation has got to learn that just because our leaders approve the money for their lamebrain ideas, we are not suddenly on the fast track to resolution. In fact, it usually means just the opposite. Throwing good money after bad is a habit this country can no longer afford.