Friday, July 18, 2014

Using Leverage in Central America

Members of Congress are starting to echo each other about using leverage on Central America.

The argument is that the United States is so powerful that we can compel Central American governments to bend to our will to resolve the problem and punish them if they fail. That they are clearly incapable of solving the problem seems not to enter into the equation.

The United States can indeed punish Central American governments by withholding aid. Doing so will almost certainly lead to more migration as whatever meager economic gains they make are slowed. That outcome is not in the interests of the United States.

Their argument hinges on the pervasive belief that immigration problems result from lack of will. If President Obama would just try harder, there would be no problem. Since IRCA, Presidents Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II apparently had no such will either. If we don't have the will, then maybe we can force it onto Central American presidents, then whack them if the result is unsatisfactory.

Objective conditions and historical realities therefore slide easily into the background; complexity give way to simplicity; and responsibility shifts to blaming others.


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