Without U.S. Border Security, Central America Aid Package Will Fail



The Biden administration says “poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries” are driving migrants to the U.S. Though that is partially true, a White House plan to send $4 billion to our southern neighbors is a misdirected expenditure destined to fail.

For starters, Uncle Sam’s magnanimity works out to about $29 per person. Even with the generous assumption that it will trickle down through layers of ingrained graft and corruption, the payout won’t accomplish much.

It’s naive to think that more “aid” will alter the migration dynamic when every American president since the 1960s has tried similar initiatives. Biden’s prospects are doubtful as El Salvador’s president refused to meet his special envoy, and Honduras’ president is under U.S. criminal investigation involving a drug-smuggling ring.

While it dismantles agreements that discourage migrants from “asylum shopping” their way to the U.S., the White House concedes that no “formal” agreements have been reached with Northern Triangle countries to curb migration. And a $4 billion check sends the wrong signal if it’s funded from detention budgets and the abandoned border wall. This simply perpetuates the “pull” of illegal migration, with no pushback.

Central America’s high levels of violence and chronic corruption are serious and deep-seated. But before getting on their high horse, Biden & Co. need to address similar problems closer to home.

Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies notes that Baltimore, 40 miles from the White House, averaged a homicide a day, every day, last year. Two of the Charm City’s last five mayors resigned amid corruption scandals. Some of the most vicious criminals in Baltimore (and other urban centers) are MS-13 gangsters, members of a network originally set up to protect Salvadoran immigrants.

“If the administration cannot ensure a clean government in a city an hour away, what exactly will they do to address corruption in San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa or Mexico City (and thousands of cities and towns in between)?” Arthur asks.

None of this is to suggest the U.S. shouldn’t help its neighbors. But America’s political class must wake to the reality that sending a few billion more dollars to Central America while failing to secure our southern border is only a formula for continued failure.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.