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Desperation in Central America

July 18, 2014 - Jim Anderson
Some conservatives have floated the silly idea that President Obama planned the surge of immigrant children at the nation’s border. While those claims are empty potshots, the president does share responsibility for a Central American crisis that’s driving the influx.

At In These Times, immigrant rights activist David Bacon discusses U.S. actions that are hurting the region. U.S. free trade and interventionist military policies are behind much of the economic desperation in Central America, according to Bacon.

Corporate dumping of U.S. agricultural products in Central America has contributed to an economic crisis that’s forced rural families out of farming. There are no jobs to take the place of those lost vocations. The U.S., meanwhile, has a long history of opposing leftist leaders, most recently giving de facto approval to a 2009 military coup in Honduras. (If an ambitious Republican is searching for Hillary Clinton blunders, perhaps he/she should start there.)

In a vicious social cycle, economic desperation feeds escalating violence. Indiscriminate crackdowns fill prisons, which become centers for gang recruitment. (Central American gangs, at least in part, originated in our own Los Angeles, the result of criminals being deported from state prisons in California.)

“Young people fleeing the violence are reacting to the consequences of policies for which the U.S. government is largely responsible, in the only way open to them,” Bacon writes. “More (border) enforcement will not deal with the causes of the migration from Central America,” he warns.

Congress, meanwhile, wants to speed the removal of migrant children from the U.S.

It would seem that will be accomplished. They’re children and we’re the United States of America.

A true accomplishment, of course, would be to deliver them to something better than what they’ve fled.

We can debate the causes of Central American desperation. ... if Bacon is off the mark, maybe there are other answers. But that’s the issue that deserves the most attention — not how best to fortify the border from youngsters.



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