This article is moderately liberally biased.
Let’s be realistic: President Donald Trump probably doesn’t want any more immigrants in this country, especially from south of the border. And whether he has racial justifications for excluding hispanics is rather beside the point.
Out-of-control immigration is a genuine concern for a country–any country–that is having difficulty protecting its borders. Early in his presidency Trump blamed Mexicans for the influx, yet did not acknowledge statistics that showed the numbers had cratered compared to the last decade. (A working NAFTA was a big factor, as Mexican maquiladoras–factories supplied and supported by American manufacturers, were humming, and still are).
Yet a major campaign promise was to build an impenetrable wall. Both conservatives and liberals could see the folly of it, yet Trump could not. It would deter only a few desperate Hispanics who could not find work and not the drug smugglers and rapists often cited who found entry points across the border via tunnels, border crossings themselves, and planes–even submarines and ships! It was the ultimate folly and led nowhere. And Mexicans simply weren’t the lion’s share of the illegal entries.
The countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, just south of the Mexican border, were experiencing drug gangs, violence in general–and, as was recently reported, a collapse in their coffee industry prices. Trump probably didn’t even know where they were on a map, and many Americans do not either. (I have traveled to Mexico dozens of times and built a house in the upper Baja. And, admittedly, for a long time I thought Honduras was an island off the coast somewhere).
Our border problem really boils down to a “foot” vs. “head” problem. The “foot” is the three Central American countries a thousand miles south that are funneling immigrants northward. The “head” is the northern Mexican border adjacent to the United States where the major “head” ache lies–thousands of hispanics seeking asylum and not enough resources to cope with them.
Trump finally became aware of some of this and cut off most aid to the “foot” countries. Wrong strategy. He threatened tariffs with Mexico if that government didn’t do more to police the southern border with them. The threats worked, but were misguided. To his credit he has now come up with a solution that should work, which is to support these countries–specifically Guatemala–in becoming “safe” countries, with the means to keep people within their borders.
“It’s outrageous to think that Guatemala would be considered a safe third country for asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras, given the high number of Guatemalans who are fleeing due to unbearable levels of violence, persecution and corruption,” stated Maureen Meyer, head of the migrant rights program at the Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy group.
And would taxpayers even support sending funds that might improve Guatemala’s infrastructure and social services when there is a perception that our own infrastructure is crumbling?
Maybe, maybe not. But many are aware of the dictator Maduro’s looting of Venezuela and leaving his countrymen in poverty with little choice but to flee the country in droves. The leaders of the three hispanic countries have incentives to retain their populace–if not, at this point, the means. (Maybe there is even oil within them.) Their coffee growing industry could be immediately subsidized to stanch the northward migrations.
Americans need to look at a map. These countries are not landlocked hellholes, they astride the Caribbean ocean. Not far away is Cancun. English speaking Belize, quite close, is a darling of American tourism and investment. Even Costa Rica, where many older American expats reside, is nearby and a gorgeous tropical country with bordering Atlantic and Pacific shores. The three countries are in relatively “good” company.
Investments in these countries may not necessarily pay off, but they could eventually when the countries develop as tourist meccas. U.S. government support of efforts to eradicate crime there and develop their economies would cost much less than trying to integrate their people into an America that does not want them, really–a country which has already doubled in population itself in the last 75 years to 330 million.
Mexico recently signed the USMCA agreement. That is an act of good intentions that should help the process along. And Mexico can be a partner in the safe country proposal.