In my opinion, the solution to the immigration problem is known, but we need politicians to execute it. Before discussing it in more detail, I repeat one line of John Lennon’s song: “Imagine there’s no countries.” Yes, all these problems of immigration, and many other problems that have caused disputes and wars around the world are based on the existence of countries and its boundaries. Only religions may challenge geographic boundaries as the most used reason to attack your neighbor, but religions deserve a whole essay that is not the subject of this writing. Going back to the immigration problem, there is a second point to make: we all are immigrants. There is not a single community that has not migrated. No matter what ethnicity, geographical birthplace, or religion, we as a group of humans on earth have been migrating forever. The proof is simple and obvious: scientist have identified, based on mitochondrial DNA in fosils, that all modern humans came from east-south Africa more than 60,000 years ago, therefore, we have to conclude that we all are immigrants wherever we live today (except for the Africans that remained in that original birthplace). Now, if we put together these to points, having no countries and being all immigrants, why are we so obsessed trying to keep people outside the US? Or outside any country for that matter. In any case, being realistic, we know that in our life time we won’t see boundaries disappear, nor religions disintegrate, nor the sense of ownership of the place where we live vanish from our cultures. This bring us to the the immigration issue in a more realistic and practical way, here or in any place on earth.
First, let’s understand why people migrate. This answer is simple: we migrate because we want a better life for us or our descendants. But in the process of making that decision, we ponder pros and cons, and the decision is taken only if the pros are bigger than the cons. When a person (or a child) from Central America decides to leave his family, to pay a high dollar amount to a coyote, to cross Mexico illegally risking being killed or raped in train wagons, to cross the Rio Grande risking to drawn in the currents, to cross the desert of Arizona risking being bitten by snakes, to become an “illegal” without knowing the language, and finally reach a destination in the US with a 1 in 10 chances to make it, it is because all these obstacles are not yet enough to surmount the prospects of a better life in the US.
A bit of history, in 1948 USA gave $13 billions for the European Recovery Program (a.k.a. the Marshal Plan) after World War II, to help the devastated European countries. Assuming an yearly inflation of 3%, we are talking $90 billions in today’s dollars. Can you imagine if the US government gave such much money to Central American countries to build factories, hospitals, bridges, schools, roads, and everything that is needed to eradicate drug lords? Just for comparison, all central american countries combined have a government national budget of less than $30 billions. Now ask yourself this question, if your country is prosperous, has good schools and universities, good transportation, good hospitals, low crime, and well paid jobs, would you leave your family and country to face all obstacles mentioned above? The answer is a rotund no.
This idea is not new, and not even hard to implement, but requires the will of congressmen and the president. If Europe could recover, so Central and South America. US does not have to pay $90 billions, just a tenth of that would do it, and would be much, much cheaper than building a tall fence along borders, paying billions in order to patrol them, being seen as barbaric people who throw back children to the arms of narco-traffickers. We are better than that, and when I say “we” I mean we humans, not just Americans.
Retaking Lennon’s song: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Ciro A. Soto Aguirre©