By now, it is quite clear that the many thousands of migrants crossing the southern border are not “rapists, murderers, drug dealers,” but ordinary folk fleeing untenable circumstances of violence and poverty in their communities of origin. Their stories are compelling even heart-rending for the most part, but the current administration follows a policy the demonizes them and seeks whatever means to keep them out. I would suggest from my experiences in combating poverty in some 35 countries that a shift in policy is necessary. The United States funds programs in developing countries designed to keep people in their homes and communities, reducing the need to out-migrate. These programs in partnership with national governments provide conditional cash transfers, cash for building community assets that improve local security and enhance good governance. An “aid surge” is needed in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to provide the incentives for families to stay home and build their communities. It would involve much fewer resources than building walls and detention centers.
Disclaimer: As submitted to the Arizona Daily Star.