Address the Real Cause of Central American Migration

As we close in to just a little over a year away from the 2020 elections, there is no clearer difference between Democrats and Donald Trump when it comes to law and order than illegal immigration. Take, for example, the Democrats’ outrage at recent  “raids” by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service. If you were just listening to Democrats’ rhetoric, you would have thought masked storm troopers were breaking into the homes of American citizens in the dead of night, ripping families apart, sending people away never to be seen again.

Of course that’s not even close to what happened.

In reality, law enforcement agents are simply apprehending illegal aliens who have received their final deportation notices and yet remain in the country. That means that these illegals have had the full array of due process, have gone before judges who have heard their cases, and have had their claims rejected.

ICE is also removing illegals with criminal records, yet Democrats would have you think we’re dealing with the leading lights of the immigrant community. We’re not, but that’s hardly the point.  If our government does not enforce these final deportation orders, what’s the point in pretending we have immigration laws?

The good news about the debate surrounding immigration is that Democrats have dropped all pretense of  supporting the rule of law or favoring American citizens. From healthcare for illegals to decriminalizing illegal entry, Democrats are advocating the loss of national sovereignty through open-border policies while giving the green light for more people to enter the country illegally. One would be forgiven for thinking the Democrats running in 2020 are running to represent illegals and not the American people.

What’s troubling is that these Democrats, and let’s face it, the Chamber of Commerce Republicans are doing exactly what the northern triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala want. As Bloomberg News reported last month, those countries  have been slashing their social welfare programs for years in an effort to balance budgets, reduce crime, and drive out their poorest citizens. These countries have encouraged the poor to leave and have even helped facilitate it. People involved in foreign aid to Central America have confirmed this to me, saying that this behavior has been going on for over a decade. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that “Guatemala is now the largest source of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S.” with many coming for purely economic reasons.

By some accounts, due to our broken asylum laws, upwards of one million Central Americans will come to this country this year, the overwhelming majority of them illegally. Why? Beyond the economic reasons and our loophole-riddled system, it’s because we have a major political party promising them healthcare, social welfare services, and encouraging them to come all while the other major party stands by, feckless and doing nothing.

With our current approach we are endorsing and empowering the northern triangle countries to continue with their bad behavior. But we’re also telling the cartels, human smugglers, and sex traffickers that this country doesn’t enforce laws designed to combat their abuse of children, their violations of human rights, or, for that matter, laws meant to protect the American people.

There is no doubt that the southern border should be controlled, that the American people have a right to national sovereignty and have the right to decide who comes into our country. There is absolutely a need for a physical wall in as many places as possible.  The visa program should be reformed, our asylum loopholes fixed, and we should have e-verify along with all the other reforms needed to address illegal immigration.

But we must also address why this is happening; all these reforms, border security and a border wall are really just addressing the effects, not the cause. Until we address the northern triangle’s economic model and encourage economic opportunity in those countries we will never fully succeed in addressing the flow of illegal immigrants into this country.

Trump is on the right track in stopping doing the things that don’t work—for example cutting foreign aid, which only exacerbates the problem. There are those who say we must keep giving foreign aid to these countries and that all of this financial support will eventually fix these problems. That’s absurd. It is the very definition of insanity to continue doing the same thing and expect different results. We have plowed billions of dollars into Central America over the last decade. For what? To see a massive increase in illegal immigration.

Even this week, Trump is threatening to crack down on Guatemala, tweeting:

Unlike Guatemala, El Salvador’s leaders appear to realize they can and must be better. Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele this month said: “Folks don’t flee their houses as a result of they wish to. They flee their houses as a result of they really feel they should. They fled El Salvador, they fled our nation. It’s our fault.”

Trump must tell these countries that if they are interested in real economic growth and giving their people a reason to stay, he will work with them if that’s what they truly want. He will work to bring private investment if these countries will make themselves attractive by enforcing the rule of law, ensuring secure contracts, and truly cracking down on corruption and graft.

In the meantime, Trump should use every tool at his disposal to make it clear to these countries that they are no longer going to send their people here for us to provide the social welfare programs and economic opportunities that they refuse to secure for their citizenry. Those days are over.

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Photo Credit: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.

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