The crisis that has erupted at our southern border is a direct and all-too-predictable result of the Obama administration’s feckless immigration policies. But there is a deeper cause as well, one for which Republicans and religious conservatives share blame.
Encouraged by the rumors they hear of Uncle Sam’s leniency and largesse, an exodus of many tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America, joined by pregnant women and mothers bearing small children, is leaving that troubled region behind. They are pouring into our country not just unchecked, but indeed aided and abetted by the very same federal authorities — handing out bus tickets, no less — who once sought to turn them back. Rather than avoiding Border Patrol agents, these illegal crossers are actually seeking them out. Who wouldn’t? Welcome to Obama’s version of a kinder and gentler — and lawless — America.
What is the proximate cause of this upsurge? The Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian puts it best: the administration’s “various de facto amnesties for illegal aliens and its permissive enforcement practices.”
Word has spread far and wide among the struggling populace of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that if they can just survive the harrowing and hazardous journey across Mexico, Uncle Sam and our president will welcome them with open arms. Heck, they can even get licenses to drive and in just a few years qualify for in-state tuition at taxpayer-funded universities. And of course, be loyal Democratic voters for life.
As one pregnant immigrant said in a front-page story in a major media outlet: “I heard in Guatemala that people were caught by immigration, but then they let them go and gave them a permit.” While this is not technically accurate — in fact, illegal migrants are being given orders to appear in court to face possible deportation — no one expects them to appear and no one expects them to be deported.
As former U.S. Foreign Service consular officer David Seminara — who has adjudicated many visas at embassies and consulates overseas — wrote recently: “No immigration experience — legal or illegal — occurs in a vacuum and each story is shared, and those anecdotal tales become gospel.” And not just gospel, but reality, because no one believes Obama will enforce the law against hapless minors and mothers with kids that he has effectively invited into the country.
Cynics and Obama’s critics might be forgiven for entertaining the notion that if Obama couldn’t push an amnesty through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, this is his tactic for achieving de facto amnesty, and indeed, erasing our borders altogether “by other means.”
But in a deeper sense, Republicans, as well as Democrats, conservatives and bleeding-heart liberals, share the blame for this debacle.
Each of the countries that these illegal migrants are fleeing has a high birth rate, an exploding population and an expanding misery quotient. Guatemala’s population of 15 million is projected to reach 31 million by 2050 and Honduras’ 9 million to reach 15 million, even with all the out-migration. The weak economies of these impoverished countries can provide neither enough jobs nor land and other resources for their swelling numbers. Gangs and drug trafficking fill the void, and violence is the inevitable outcome.
Dominated by the religious right, many of whom oppose not just abortion but birth control too, Republicans in Congress have routinely eviscerated U.S. government support for family planning programs in developing countries overseas. Indirectly, therefore, but in a very real way, Republicans have enabled and exacerbated this crisis.
Yet, ultimately, it is the corrupt politicians and clerics of Central America itself who are most culpable. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras in the late 1980s, the United Nations Population Fund offered that country’s government a $6 million grant to implement a program in population education that promoted responsible parenthood (not having children you couldn’t support) and, indirectly, a reduction in the fertility rate.
It is no exaggeration to say that Honduran Catholic Church authorities went ballistic. Church spokesmen claimed this was “genocide” and a “knife stab against our national culture.” The outcry forced the Honduran government to reject these free funds to help it defuse the country’s population bomb before it detonated. Since then the population of Honduras has doubled. Thus, there is ample blame to go around for the present untenable, unsustainable situation.
One thing is sure: As long as America’s politicians continue to let Central America use the United States as an escape valve for the challenges it is unwilling or unable to address, the flow northward will not just continue unabated, but grow even greater.
Leon Kolankiewicz is a senior writing fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization, an environmental scientist and planner.