Today I want to talk about the reasons people have for leaving their home countries in Latin America and coming to the United States. Why are they so desperate that they cannot wait for the legal methods (aside from their incredible slowness and wait times of decades)?
The violence in Latin America is shocking. Mexico is the worst, and the one we hear about most, but the other countries farther south, especially Guatemala and Honduras, are just about as bad. What is the source of the violence? Right now, it’s due to the drug traffickers using these countries as a base, as Columbia becomes more able to control its countryside and enforce its laws, and the US Coast Guard has shut down the Caribbean sea route for getting drugs into the United States.
Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras have never fully recovered from their civil wars of the 1970s and 80s. Almost all security in the countryside is from private security companies, not the police. The drug traffickers find it incredibly easy to move their products through these countries, bringing drug addiction and violence with them.
The drugs, of course, are coming to the United States. The war on drugs is not working, it only moves the violence from our doorstep to the countries farther south. I don’t know if legalization is the answer, but I do know that our current policies are not working. We cannot expect to have limited immigration from our southern neighbors when we export the violence of our illegal drug market to them.
However, drug violence is not the entire story. Even if that problem were solved (thorny as it is) then something would still need to be done about the economies of these countries. Except for Panama and Costa Rica, most of the children do not go onto secondary education. And in Panama and Costa Rica, there aren’t enough jobs for skilled people, so the education they have is not put to work.
The opportunities, even for illegal immigrants, are so much greater in the United States that it is no surprise that people want to live here instead.
Mexico is a slightly different story. The drug violence is increasing daily in Mexico, and it is no wonder that the people would like to escape it. But when it comes to education, the educational opportunities are much better in Mexico. But the economy of the Mexican countryside is almost entirely farm-based, and not very efficient. It cannot provide a living to the entire population.
To summarize, there are several very complicated problems occurring in Mexico and Latin America, all of which will be difficult to solve and some of which cannot be solved by people from outside the affected countries, however well-meaning.
Monday, a discussion of justice and how it fits with these problems and their solutions.
Read Part Four
- Thoughts on Immigration, Part One (uucifsocialjustice.wordpress.com)
- Central America: The tormented isthmus (economist.com)
- Narco-Dividends: White Lobsters on the Mosquito Coast (time.com)
- Official: Mexican cartels hiring common criminals (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Thoughts on Immigration, Part Two (uucifsocialjustice.wordpress.com)