Let’s start by identifying what’s not driving it. The surge in immigration from Central America to the United States is not caused by violence in the countries the migrants are leaving. As Matt Sussis points out in the video below, since 2011 the murder rate has declined significantly in Guatemala and Honduras. It has declined significantly in El Salvador since 2015.
Some on the left claim that climate change is responsible for the waves of immigration. Supposedly, it has led to lower crop production, thereby threatening the livelihoods of agricultural workers in Central America.
File this claim under “climate change, is there nothing it can’t do?”
Sussis observes that, since 2000 crop yields have risen significantly in all three of the countries mentioned above. Thus, as with violence, climate change does not explain the recent surge in migration.
What does? The obvious motive for coming to the U.S. from Central America is the superior economic conditions in our country. The spike is almost certainly due to asylum loopholes, in particular those in the Flores Settlement Agreement, as interpreted by left-liberal judges.
The Agreement, dealing with the treatment of immigrant children, was reached in 1997 by the Clinton administration. But it was in 2015 that Judge Dolly Gee, an Obama appointee, interpreted it to cover not only unaccompanied children, but also accompanied children, and to require the release of children within 20 days. Thus all minors in detention, whether or not they were with their parents, now had to be released in less than three weeks.
This ruling laid the groundwork for the current crisis at the border, in which children are released while their parents can still be detained awaiting hearings — hence, the “separation” of families. The alternative is simply releasing the entire family after three weeks or less. In other words, “catch-and-release.”
Aliens now understand that if they ask to be put into asylum proceedings, their children — and often if not usually the adults, too — will be released into the country shortly after they are apprehended as they await their removal proceedings. Once that happens, they are normally here to stay.
This, not fear of violence or climate change, is what’s driving the surge in migration.