Worthwhile to Stay, or Just Harder to Get Out?

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New government regulations typically mean additional costs to whoever they affect .These additional costs get passed along to the customers who may fuss and protest, but in the end pay for the services anyway. Illegal immigration is no exception to the rule.

Thus, the  Obama administration’s offer to help Central American countries with security, in order to stem the flow of illegal immigration, will likely result in higher tariffs to make the trip north, but without a significant reduction in the actual numbers of travelers. It will also probably be a boom for security contractors and consultants as funding for training, equipping and supervising “counterparts” gets fast-tracked.

To be fair, we should take into account that the offer is broader. The White House Release of July 25 quotes President Obama´s remarks, “And we are committed to working together in partnership with each of these countries to find ways in which we can come up with more aggressive action plans to improve security and development and governance in these countries.” These countries, of course are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The fact that the next paragraph compares the effort to current border security programs to halt drugs running north and guns running south is rather disheartening. See the entire press release here.

“Improving security and development and governance” sounds reasonable at first glance, but seen under the shadow of experience, the offer begins with control and ends with more control. Development and other comments on opportunity are more refreshing, although the top-down transplanted system has yet to be proven fruitful.

We always come back to the solution being a long-term investment in an educational program that builds opportunity and eliminates barriers. While actually the most reasonable and simple option, the fact that it offers no short-term financial gain for vested interests, seems to make it too idealistic. Someday, not too far off, we will need to make a decision between actually following up on what we preach or continuing to serve as flag-wavers for corporate interests. A case in point is the current conditioning of aid in El Salvador to the purchase of Monsanto seeds. Just how is governance strengthened with that level of interference? Is this how we promote transparency?

The immigration issue provides the opportunity, even the motivation, to do it right this time around. The opportunity is there, ripe for picking; this is where we demonstrate our values, our principals. Are we going to help make it worthwhile staying in Central America or just harder to leave?

We have been working towards making it worthwhile at the Amún Shéa, Center for Integrated Development in El Salvador. Please consider joining in with support. Let´s do it right this time around.

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