Immigration, you may have noticed, is very much in the news these days. And that seems unlikely to change.
“We are not going to stop sending people, and you guys are not going to be able to stop them from getting in,” a Honduran military officer warned The Washington Post. And Honduras isn’t the only starting point. Migrants -- many of them children -- are also flowing north from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries.
In the last six months, American border patrol agents have picked up some 50,000 children. That’s ten times higher than the number caught at the dawn of the Obama presidency in 2009.
They’re coming to escape poverty and fighting at home. But they’re also under the impression that, if they can make it to the border, they’ll be allowed to stay. “Many people are saying the U.S. has approved a law to receive children,” a 37-year-old mother of four told the Post. “The U.S. is an advanced country, and I want my children to study there. I want them to have a better life.”
Both parts of that statement are reasonable readings of American policy.
In 2012, President Obama told his secretary of homeland security that she shouldn’t enforce the immigration laws against certain young people who had been brought to the U.S. as children.
Obama meant for the order to apply to illegal immigrants who’ve been here for years; many of them don’t even speak Spanish and have no living memory of their home country. But the move was a vast overreach of his presidential powers. And the nuance in his message clearly didn’t get through to many would-be migrants.
The second part of the woman’s statement is true as well. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but life is simply better in the U.S. than it is in most of Central America. We enjoy a higher standard of living, better schools, more peaceful streets. The illegal migrants have reason to believe they’re coming to a better life, or at least getting one for their children.