Migration could reduce migration, with money sent home
Migrants have crossed the border illegally to work and earn money in the United States for many years, often working here in tough trades suffering from a lack of manpower. For many American employers, these are the perfect workers because they receive low wages and are willing to do harder work than Americans. Over time, if they are lucky, they are approved for asylum or to become US citizens.
The United Nations Office (UN) Drug and Crime Reports that undocumented migrants cross the border with the help of human traffickers, known as “coyotes”. Migrants feel safer if smugglers coordinate travel with their contacts to avoid being victims of “theft, kidnapping, death or exploitation”. the un mentionned.
Coyotes bill between $ 1,800 and $ 12,000 per nobody. The smugglers deal with gangs, corrupt officials, bus drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, hotel operators, boat drivers and drug cartels, all of whom receive a portion of the money. the money undocumented migrants pay from the coyotes.
The economic situation
Poor migrants usually borrow money to hire coyotes, and once in America, they work hard for a year or two doing things like washing dishes, working in chicken factories, or helping with construction to pay off. the loan.
When migrants can save money, they send it to their families. The main reason is to help those who live in miserable conditions at home, but sometimes the money is to buy a farm or start a business in their hometown.
Sending money from the United States is one of the most important sources of income for countries in Latin America. Those remittances are equal to a large part of the outputs of these economies. In Honduras, transfers represent 22% of its production, in El Salvador 21%, in Nicaragua 13% and in Guatemala 13%.
These resources help the Central American economies with the lowest GDP in Latin America. The money is especially useful now when the Covid-19 pandemic has increased poverty in this region due to the economic lockdown and the lack of vaccines needed to restore momentum to these economies.
Mexico’s $ 1.2 trillion GDP does not help the migration problem
Mexicans top the list of remittances from the United States to Latin America. In 2019, Mexican migrants sent home $ 38.5 billion. However, this money does not represent a large part of Mexico’s economic output, as it is part of the group of countries with over $ 1 trillion in GDP in the world. In 2019, it was $ 1.2 trillion, the second in Latin America after Brazil at $ 1.8 trillion.
Being America’s neighbor gives Mexico the opportunity to be the second-largest recipient of foreign investment by Latin America. Globalization has brought in a lot of resources, stimulated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Canada, Mexico and the United States signed in 1994. Mexico occupies a privileged position among the economies of the region, but also has a high level of income inequality, corruption, drug trafficking and violence – so many factors of migration that make Mexico lead the procession in the United States
Over 60% of all Latins living in the United States are Mexicans, and year after year immigrants become the nation’s most citizens. In 2019, the number of Mexicans nationalized as Americans was 122,286 out of a total of 843,593 immigrants from around the world. They are really ahead in this ranking; The Chinese come in second with only 39,490 nationalized.
Biden announces U.S. investment in region
Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are among the top 20 countries on the planet with the greatest income inequalities, according to the Gini Index. El Salvador has less inequalities. This country adopted the dollar as its currency 20 years ago, and this has kept inflation at a good level, but its economic growth is still very low and poverty is really high. high.
Although people from all over the world come to Central America to cross the border, in 2019 89% of these migrants were from Mexico and central America.
The key to reducing migration is reducing poverty, and the White House knows it. In January, the administration of US President Joe Biden announced a $ 4 billion investment to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Biden’s administration seems ready to help, but it should also ask for better leadership from those countries to ensure the resources are useful. Unfortunately, for the last two US administrations, witnessing the migration crisis at the border has largely obscured the fact that some presidents of these countries, where the money goes, are acting like authoritarians.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appears to be an authoritarian leader on the left. Analyst Jorge Castañeda recommends that President Biden be concerned about “the abuses committed by President Obrador by threatening electoral authorities, by singling out high-profile publications or by supporting the two-year extension of the mandate of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court”.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is another authoritarian leftist leader in Central America. He has been in power for 14 years, bringing to this country’s economy the lowest GDP in the region.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele is also seen as an authoritarian leader, in this case on the right. His party, which heads the legislature, voted to dismiss Salvador’s main prosecutor, General Raul Melara, and to dismiss all judges in the constitutional chamber of the country’s Supreme Court.
the US Department of State Report that many Central American government officials have been investigated for corruption, “some have been forced to leave their posts and some have even been sent to jail. However, in most cases corruption goes unpunished and unchecked, spreading through society like wildfire. ”
Drug trade increases migration
This environment is not attractive to any investor and governments need a lot of money to pay for public health and education. Lack of these resources is a major driver of migration.
In addition, many officials in these underdeveloped countries are involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. The brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, for example, has been sentenced to life for drug trafficking by a US court. Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, who was a congressman, “was convicted in October 2019 of smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States”
Christopher Landau, US ambassador to Mexico during the Donald Trump administration, said the drug cartels had gained a lot of power in Mexico and controlled between 35 and 40 percent of the territory. “López Obrador has taken a passive approach to cartels. He considers the cartels to be his Vietnam ”. Landau said. “The President of Mexico has tried to avoid open conflict and instead adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards the cartels.”
Violence is the most powerful engine of migration; it is produced by the drug trade and human trafficking and is evident in cities in Mexico. Five of the top six most dangerous cities in the world are Mexican. Tijuana has the most murders, with 138 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, with nearly seven people killed every day in this city.
Now, when López Obrador urges the United States to donate the $ 4 billion President Biden has offered to improve the economy of Central American countries and reduce migration, I wonder if a donation or investment could help. to reduce migration in this context.
Mexico is the second largest recipient of foreign investment and its GDP is the second largest in Latin America; however, this produces a lot of migration. It seems that poor budget management does not allow financial resources to be useful. There is no doubt that investment and job creation are fundamental to growing the middle class to reduce poverty and inequality in these countries, but the governments of Central America and Mexico may need some help. changes to be able to manage this money in the desired direction.
Fortunately, governments do not manage the remittances that immigrants send home, so these resources flow directly from the economy of the United States to the poor to reduce poverty in those countries. For now, when issues like corruption and violence need to be addressed in Central America, remittances appear to be the most effective way for these people to improve their lives. Although it may sound ironic, one could say that migration reduces migration.
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