Border surge—it’s not about crime and violence

By Ric Oberlink
July 25, 2014

There is a simple means to determine whether the surge of Central Americans illegally crossing our border is, as the Obama administration maintains, a result of high crime rates and gang violence, or if, as the Guatemalan ambassador said, “Violence is not the reason,” but instead they are economic migrants “trying to reach the American dream.” Look at a map.

The distance from Honduras to the United States is 1500 miles.  The distance from Honduras to Nicaragua is zero—zero miles, zero inches, zero nanometers.  Honduras may have the world’s highest homicide rate at 90 per 100,000, but Nicaragua has one of the lowest in the Americas, 11 per 100,000. A Honduran fleeing violence could step across the border into Nicaragua… or travel two hundred miles to Costa Rica, where the homicide rate is even lower—8.5.

Homicide rates have been horrendously high in parts of Central America for ages, but have declined in recent years.  They are not the proximate cause of the border surge.  Nor is the 2008 law that added procedural impediments to removals, although both are factors.  Central Americans are entering the U.S. illegally because they know the Obama administration will not deport them.  On June 15, 2012, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, stating he would not deport unauthorized alien minors who had arrived by that date.  Central Americans quite realistically assumed that if minors and families crossing the border illegally in 2012 could stay, then so could those who arrived in 2013 and 2014.

Moreover, the Senate has passed, with Obama’s support, an immigration bill that includes an amnesty.  After the 1986 amnesty, awarding legal status to three million, illegal immigration increased and we now have 11 to 12 million unauthorized aliens. Each new amnesty, or perception of further amnesty, increases the flow of illegal immigration. Enactment of the Senate bill would only exacerbate the problem.

Central American countries are hardly the only ones with dreadful homicide rates.  The 50 cities with the highest homicide rates in the world include five from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  They also include six from Columbia, five from Venezuela, and 16 from Brazil.  If the U.S. is obligated to absorb some significant portion of the 31,000,000 population of three Central American countries, then surely it must absorb a significant portion of the 281,000,000 population of Venezuela, Columbia, and Brazil.  Coyotes will soon establish the pricing structure and advertising campaign for the trip from South America to the U.S.

But violence is common throughout the world and not always reflected in homicide statistics.  Warfare and ethnic and religious killings beset Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Syria, among others.  Surely their citizens have as much of right to move to the U.S. as Guatemalans.

Beyond that, four American cities are among the 50 with the highest homicide rates.  The murder rates in Detroit and New Orleans exceed those of Guatemala and El Salvador.  Are Americans fleeing crime entitled to asylum in other countries?

We must realize that America cannot be 9-1-1 for the world. Congress is mulling spending billions of dollars to provide housing, education, and healthcare to illegal migrants—billions that won’t help American victims of gang violence, billions that won’t provide medical care to homeless American veterans.  The border surge is a humanitarian crisis, but one created by President Obama and his allies.  They have dangled a carrot over a precipice, enticing thousands of children and families to make the perilous journey.  How many migrants have been abused, raped, or murdered along the way?  The most humane solution is to return them promptly so that others will not be tempted to make the dangerous trip.

Ric Oberlink, J.D., is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization and can be reached at info@CAPSweb.org

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