In the US political landscape the metamorphosis of the ongoing migrant humanitarian crisis has had many turns and twists depending on the US political climate and party in charge in the Washington DC. From the kids in cages imagery under the Deporter in Chief Obama through a horrendously inhuman family separation under Trump to the feelgood sloganeering and US media forced amnesia under Biden, the show of political dysfunction continues while the people who should matter most in this scenario suffer it instead.
I have recently travelled the border wall zone from El Paso, TX to the Nogales, AZ , crossing it 7 times to talk to people on both sides of border. The picture that comes out of it is as complex as the people that inhabit them and the ridiculous template scenario of the good vs the bad ‚largely toed by the US media sensationalist approach, is as unrealistic and false as one can get.
The standard diagnosis of the problem and its solutions are drafted along the political convictions of the US political class in power. On the right, the issue of US sovereignty, whether the US or Mexico is a paramount to exercising border control at all costs while the liberal left thinks that the open border policy and humanism should be a guiding principle over any domestic and international laws as in their own words, “no human being is illegal.”
The right presumes that the economic motivation of the migrants comes out of nowhere but a pure greed and selfishness while the left and a large part of the conservative right thinks of this problem as something to be dealt with through a broken immigration system that should help these people as long as they don’t wind up costing US society too much and most importantly, do not put them “in my own backyard.” Obviously the both sides of this argument are wrong.
The refugee convoys that predominated the movement of people that try to reach US border are partly outcome of the US political and economic meddling in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras own political landscape that resulted in coups and socio-economic dislocation not to mention export of the US own problems in form of MS-13 gang members from the barrios of Los Angeles during a tough on crime 1990s ideology of vengeful deportations. The second part of this phenomenon has origins in the domestic corrupt political elites that has largely run their countries as defacto plantations of cheap labor for the largely US-based big business resulting in gargantuan socio-economic divide and subsequent abandonment of their population to the emerged predatory criminal class. The subsequent US govts since 1900s have aided and abetted these developments through coups and indirect control of the central America under the guise of fight against Communism that not only impoverished these countries but offered no recipe for equitable development except of legal and illegal migration to El Norte to better one’s economic lot.
The product of this has been enhanced by the internet age where the images of wealth and prosperity are now ubiquitous among the ones who want to reach them without understanding a complex reality of the Capitalist system that giveth after it taketh first. In my many conversations among refugees who are seeking a better future, the faith in better life on the “otro lado” the other side of the border , is as strong as the faith in the Catholicism , the miracles and articles of faith thrown in. Unfortunately the many brave souls that made the 2000 miles plus trip on foot or by other risky means do not have educational, cultural or professional skill set to be able to contribute to the US society from a get go and the time and effort to get them there is beyond the US Govt’s political will and allocation of the economic resource needed to make it happen. Obviously the site of parents giving up their children to a complete strangers of Border Patrol is a something that only shows the pathological dimension of this problem, often aided with fortune made by the criminal cartels and petty economic opportunism that literally puts lives in danger. When I see children crossing the border by themselves I see my own children in them thus I cannot simply turn my head away and pretend that the issue just doesn’t exist or that the Kamala Harris’ stewardship of the invisible problem by invisible management will solve anything. What is needed is a comprehensive and bi-partisan nation building effort in Central America that will allow the society of victims of the decades of neglect to regain their place in their own societies without resorting to the 13th Century-like children crusade for dignity and hope of better tomorrow based on religion-like fanaticism. Unfortunately this most likely will not happen as unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Central America doesn’t have resources that our corporations are willing to exploit. If the situation in Haiti can serve as guide, the hot air rhetoric in the political football game of preconceived notions and propaganda will stay the course of political expediency by promoting the cure of more neoliberalism that benefit the very few over the very many. The real “human rights” interventionism has to come at the cost of the ongoing political control and agendas that benefit from the status quo while completely reforming these societies to be safe for their populations and offer the path to economic prosperity for all, regardless of ideology of political and economic tools to get there While the failure to confront this problem is evident in the reaction to it by Central American Govts and US Govt, the only glimmer of hope lays in actions of the Mexican Govt under the leadership of its progressive president Luis Manuel Lopez Obrador ( AMLO). AMLO has announced the path of citizenship to all refugees currently in Mexico along with social security and work program that although limited gives the undocumented population a way forward to stabilize their precarious situation by a tangible step to help naturalize it first. Unfortunately the lure of the better standard of living in a much richer United States has mesmerized the migrants to the point of all or nothing approach which many in the US take as sign of economic and societal entitlement. This creates a huge amount of bad will toward the migrants also among Mexicans who feel that their generous offer is being belittled by the ungrateful central Americans thinking they deserve better.
In short the Gordian Knot represented by the current issue at the US-Mex border will continue with the PR half measures taking precedent over the situation while the defacto militarization of the US border will continue. The history has shown that whether the Berlin Wall or Great China Wall of the past they only work as temporary band aids while the wound behind it only gets worse with time. The lack of the acknowledgment of its root causes and the lack of its comprehensive resolution is currently an invisible national security crisis with only worse downside scenarios going forward. It is also an indictment of political class in the US and the Central America that allowed it to get to this point.
Special thanks to Fuchs Family in New Mexico,USA
Special thanks to Javier Mora in Sonora, Mexico
Embassy of Honduras has ignored interview requests.
Embassy of El Salvador has ignored interview requests.
Embassy of Guatemala has ignored interview requests.