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Post Thoughts on the Central American Migrant Caravan
Created by John Eipper on 11/04/18 8:57 AM

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Thoughts on the Central American Migrant Caravan (Timothy Brown, USA, 11/04/18 8:57 am)

I very much appreciate Richard Hancock's sympathy towards Hispanics (3 November), since I've been married to one for sixty years, raised a bilingual family, adjudicated thousands of citizenship and visas during my 27 years as a Foreign Service Officer, both immigration and not immigration, and spent many years as an economic/political analyst of Paraguay, Uruguay, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, a US-Mexico Border Researcher and in recent decades as a columnist in numerous publications and speaker.

I've researched and published extensively in both academic and news outlets, mostly on Latin America, analytical pieces dealing with Central America and Mexico. Having lived and worked in the countries from which the "Column of Asylum Seekers" come, I too am very sympathetic with the plight of all too many Central Americans. But they are not the only ones with whom I sympathize. A broader look at the realities of the matter needs to be considered.

The "Column of Asylum Seekers" in today's news consists of individuals bent on jumping the line in which hundreds of thousands of others, including their fellow Central Americans, are waiting for legal approval to enter either because they don't want to wait their turns--or they know they aren't qualified for legal entry.

On immigration into the United States and becoming permanent residents, over the last five years, about 2.5 million (that's right, millions, not thousands) immigrants have legally entered the United States and millions more of intending legal immigrants are awaiting, admittedly impatiently, their turns to do the same.

During those five years we issued 9.7 million non-immigrant visas authorizing non-citizens to enter the US on business, tourist or other visas and also issued more than 500,000 temporary work permits per year and each year for the last two decades (yes decades), there have been between between 200 and 230 million (yes, million) legal entries into the United States from Mexico.

As I believe I've mentioned earlier, while I was a lend-lease, full-time analyst with the New Mexico Border Research Institute at NMSU, I did extensive research on the US-Mexico border and published a number of articles on it. The most complete of these was "The Fourth Member of NAFTA: The US-Mexico Border" in the March 1997 edition of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Based on that research I describe a very different border than the one the general public sees in the media. The combined border populations of the US and Mexico numbered about 22 million; per capita income on the US side of the border was lower that the US average while per capita income on the Mexican side was several times higher than elsewhere in Mexico; as of 1995, there were and average 225 million legal entries from Mexico into the US and roughly the same number from the US into Mexico. Most of the border crossings were shopping trips, during which they spent $22 billion, including $1.7 billion in sales taxes they paid to US border states, counties and cities for which they receive no services. although they did generate some 400,000 jobs for American workers.

I also did several opinion surveys asking legal, mostly native, Hispanic field hands their opinions on illegal immigration. While my methodology survey was far from academically ideal, almost universally every one of those I queries gave the same answer. Because they were competing for the same jobs, legal resident Hispanics either found it very difficult to find employment because employers preferred hiring illegals. Why, because to employ an agricultural or day worker via the legal Temporary Worker process because they could , and usually, did, pay below the legal minimum wages and didn't have to register them, withhold Social Security or taxes or provide their workers with breaks, housing, health services or transportation. So employers that break the law make more money because they knowingly break the law, while native-born Hispanic and others legally employed workers get screwed.

Despite all the smoke and mirrors being generated by activists on both sides, the real losers are poorer Hispanic workers, not well-paid political activists.

JE comments:  Tim Brown discusses the economics of the US-Mexico border in more detail in this 2016 post:


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