One More Way the Migration Surge is Enriching Central America’s Ruling Elite

The ongoing surge of migration from Central America is the product of rampant corruption on the part of the ruling oligarchs, that is enabled by feeble U.S. policies that Congress refuses to change, and by activist judges who make up laws to suit their personal political views.

Decades of corruption at the highest levels of Central American society has doomed most of the population to grinding poverty, and left an economic vacuum that has been filled by violent criminal gangs. The inevitable result has been large-scale migration, which has now reached crisis proportions. As is often the case, the people who are responsible for the crisis have found a way to capitalize on it. The people who looted and mismanaged those countries are reaping the benefits of billions of dollars in remittances that are sent back each year by the people whose lives they made so miserable that they headed north.

But now, reports Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker, the oligarchs have found a new way to cash in on the misery their neglect and corruption has created. It costs money to get from Central America to the U.S. border – lots of it, and far more than impoverished Central Americans are likely to be able to scrape together on their own. So, to raise the cash to pay the smugglers to get them to the U.S., they are taking large loans from local banks and putting up the one asset that they and their families are likely to have as collateral: their family homes and whatever small plots of land their families have eked out a living on for generations.

For the migrants it’s a high stakes gamble. Interest on the loans begins accruing the minute the bank hands them the cash. If they do make to the U.S. and begin working, there is a chance that they can make payments on the loans without losing their collateral. If the criminals they hire to smuggle them north abandon them mid-journey (as often happens), or they get turned back at the border, or even if they are merely delayed reaching the United States, it often means defaulting on the loan. As a result, family members left behind are displaced from their homes and land, adding to their desperation, while the people and institutions that control nearly all of the countries’ wealth gain control of even more of it.

Last month, President Trump took a small step toward holding the ruling oligarchs accountable by announcing a cessation of $500 million a year in foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – money which clearly is not improving life for the vast majority of people in those countries. More punitive measures against the people who have created this humanitarian crisis should be considered. But so too do we need to change laws and policies that encourage an ever-increasing number of people to risk their lives and meager assets to reach the United States. In the long run, all we are doing is enabling the corruption of the oligarchs and helping them further enrich themselves.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    Yes, we are enabling these cesspit nations to enrich themselves by sending their poor to the USA to be taken care of at our great expense whike they send billions of our dollars hone every year. BUT, we are also enabling the eventual downfall of our own country simply because our leaders are also working toward that sane downfall of the USA by allowing Americans to be replaced by needy, greedy scamming foreigners out only for themselves. This failure of the USA is bound to happen. First, we have a national debt over $22 Trillion, a debt that our congress continues adding to. Second, the costs to our nation EVERY YEAR of the ever-growing number of needy, greedy scamming foreigners, including the vast majority of the ones coming legally, is a constantly increasing hundreds of billions of dollars annually. We get more and more people getting freebies and fewer and fewer paying the taxes that support the OTHERS. This is simply not sustainable and can only lead to the destruction of our country.

    • avatar
      adelia rodrgues on

      Agree with you , yet nobody is holding accountable the special interests behind the money provided for these caravans to reach the US. Please watch the youtube video “chalkboard lesson Chicago Marxists” by Glen Beck. It is an eye opener! President Trump needs to go after these people as well. Right here in Chicago this calamity is being bred!

  2. avatar
    LaNell Barrett on

    I’ve long, and for so many reasons, screamed about The United States becoming Northern Latin America. Here is yet further reason to.
    President Trump….I voted for you to reverse this. End jobs for them. End welfare for them. Put out the word the INCOMING border gates are CLOSED. Birthright citizenship done, snd retroactive.
    Let the CHURCHES be responsible for any still here. They are wealthier than our government.

  3. avatar

    Big Brother Zuckerberg suggesting that the present regulation of campaign ads might have to be extended to “online discussions” and the one issue he specifically named was immigration. He brought up the example of the sums spent by Russia to sow discord here. Those payments were a microscopic percentage of the six and half billion dollars spent by the major parties in blanketing the airways 24/7 in 2016, including the two and a half billion spent on the presidential race. It’s already a proven fact that Facebook and Twitter are biased against conservatives. Zuckerberg and his high tech companions would love to shut down discussion, meaning criticism, of their wide open immigration policies so they can pay peanuts to foreign workers.