PanAm Post wrote an article in June about the out of control number of illegal Guatemalan minor immigrants that were flowing into the U.S. with no guardians. They kindly asked me for my thoughts on the problematic situation and I sent over my reply. They only published a portion of my response so I wanted to publish my entire answer because I think it's important.
At the time, Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Honduran Cabinet Coordinator Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro, and Mexico’s Secretary of Government Miguel Ángel Osorio, to discuss appropriate actions.
America doesn't have the power to correct the real problems that create illegal immigration
I don't think there are any appropriate actions that America has the power to take when it comes to citizens of other countries running away from their situations. We have the power to control our immigration policies, but that's it. But our government and dreamers don't want to accept this really simple reality.
I admit it is a tough situation. Families have to be extremely desperate to send their children alone to another country. That is how terrible a situation their countries are in in order for them to resort to such an activity. Violence, corruption, poverty, and lack of economic opportunity are the main reasons people leave their homelands to migrate somewhere they believe to be better. Guatemalan citizens suffer from all of these.
Unfortunately, Vice President Biden wants to discuss U.S. economic and security support for countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras with the Guatemalan president. I do not believe there is effective support that the United States can give these South American countries, short of giving these people U.S. taxpayer money, which is not effective, nor fair to our citizens. The root cause of Guatemala's problems are not violence and poverty. Those are symptoms of the real root cause which is their lack of economic freedom due to their government's policies.
Nobody wants to talk about the root causes because then it takes all the "control" out of our hands and blames another government.
You'll notice that countries that experience the most economic freedom and stable governments are generally the most prosperous. They don't have citizens trying to run away from oppressive powers. They have citizens who want to stay, work, earn, save, and build a life. Because they can. Their governments don't take away that freedom. So they stay put. And people from other countries want in to those places.
Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia are great examples. In fact, they have tough immigration issues as well. People from Indonesia constantly try to immigrate to Australia and impoverished citizens from Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, etc. all attempt to live in an economically free Singapore. Those countries' solutions? A lot of deportations.
The only thing Biden can and should do is suggest that these South American governments promote the rule of law, reduce political corruption, allow their citizens the ability to work, produce, consume, own, trade, and invest according to their personal choices. That's the real solution to families not sending their children to the U.S. illegally. Guatemalans need an environment where they can live, safely work and earn, and care for their families.
In the last few decades, Guatemala's trade, investment, and business freedoms have eroded because of continuous growth of government spending and taxation. Guatemalans don't enjoy stable property rights or freedom from corruption because their government does not promote the effective rule of law. Corruption and political influence mar their judicial system and prevent the development of a successful private sector.
Using American taxpayers' money to "take care" of illegal immigrants is neither fair or economical.
When a country like the United States has a policy of redistributing taxpayers' money to "take care" of people, immigrants from violent and economically unfree countries will always attempt to migrate here and use that welfare. Certain programs in America encourage illegal immigration. President Obama’s desire to attract immigrants led to his 2012 directive that allowed some undocumented immigrant children to defer deportation. His directive has encouraged illegal immigration and families are sending their children here thinking we'll take care of them.
Illegal immigration and deportations are expensive for Americans which isn't fair.
In June, President Obama "launched a new initiative called JusticeAmeriCorps. The program consists of recruiting lawyers who can work to defend these undocumented minors. The federal government will allocate US$2 million to subsidize 100 lawyers.
But beyond the legal fees, the fact is that every year more Central Americans, and fewer Mexicans are trying to cross the border. According to the National Council of Migrant Services (Conamigua), between January and March of this year, the number of Guatemalan children traveling alone and without papers to United States increased by 45.5 percent.
Given that none of these countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) borders the United States, the deportations have become even more expensive. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has had to use daily charter flights to return migrants to their home countries.In its 2015 budget overview, the DHS has requested an additional US$229.1 million just for the removal of illegal immigrants. That doesn’t include the expenses related to the housing and feeding of these individuals."1
This isn't the happy, rainbow feel good solution. But it's the only solution.
You might not like this solution. It doesn't give Americans' any power to help these poor people being oppressed. And that feels sucky. But that's because the problem stems from their government's oppression. There is nothing America can do except appeal to those governments to run a better country. But before America can go pointing out logs in others' eyes, we have a long list of logs in our own eyes that we must deal with first.
Unfortunately, most tyrannical and oppressive governments have a hard time giving up their power, control, and corruption to allow their citizens freedom. The result is usually an unstable country of impoverished and unhappy citizens trying to get away.
All we can really do is make sure that our country, the good old USA, continues to promote and maintain the individual and economic freedoms that so many in the world are willing to risk their kids for just to get a taste of it.
Our freedoms are eroding, as well, due to our own government expansions. So we need to stay mindful of what's happening on our own home turf before we find ourselves looking for a more free home.
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1 "Biden to the Rescue? Immigration Crisis Propels Meeting in Guatemala" PanAm Post