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Toward a More Humanitarian Immigration Policy

The U.S. plays a major role in immigration push factors in Latin America.

Read about historic push factors in Juan Gonzalez' book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

Here are some current factors, that grow out of the legacy of US meddling in Central America. 


The people of Central America experienced war throughout the 1980s. But political turmoil continues. In Honduras, a military coup in June 2009 brought a new wave of repression. Pro-democracy resistance leaders are targeted for assassination. The resistance is a broad coalition of peasant farmers, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQ activists, teachers, unionists—all united against the rule of a powerful oligarchy.


In the US, the role of the military is to defend our people from outside threats. In Latin American countries, the military often uses its power—and collusion with paramilitary forces—to exercise repression against its own people. The US plays a major role in funding and training Latin American police forces and soldiers who commit human rights abuses against their own people. Most infamous is the School of the Americas (SOA, also known as WHINSEC), located at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and funded by US taxpayer dollars.


Powerful economic interests (including transnational corporations with subsidies from US taxpayers) forcibly seize land for mining, logging, oil drilling, industrial-scale agriculture, hydroelectric dams and more. Peasant, indigenous, and Afro-descendant communities suffer intimidation, threats, assassinations and massacres. Colombia has more than 6 million internally displaced people!


Free trade agreements (FTAs) like NAFTA (US, Canada, and Mexico), CAFTA (US-Central America), and the Colombia-US Free Trade Agreement have been linked to massive displacement of small-scale farmers, unable to compete with subsidized agricultural imports that flood their domestic markets. For example, the NAFTA influx of subsidized grains from the U.S. to Mexico decimated at least 2 million farming jobs.  Now, Mexico imports $1.5 million of food each hour. In that same hour, 30 Mexican farmers migrate to the U.S. looking for work.  



Poverty  and unemployment are increasing. Too many live in extreme poverty, lacking basic human needs: safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, and health care. Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to become victims of human trafficking. Hundreds are kidnapped each year. They are forced to work on fields or in the streets as forced laborers and prostitutes.



Many of the gangs in Central America originated on the streets of the US. Then the gang members were deported to Central America, where they now deal in human trafficking and drug trafficking—all the while waging violence in the streets. Of course, high demand for drugs in the US keeps them in business!





All people deserve to be treated with dignity. No human being is illegal.


Immigration (in all forms) is actually a boost to the US economy.

TAX BASE: Undocumented immigrants do pay sales tax, property tax and even income tax. If the 11 million currently undocumented immigrants were legalized, the federal government would accrue more than $5 billion in the next 3 years alone.

SOCIAL SECURITY:  Legalization of undocumented immigrants would put $300 billion more into Social Security over the next 10 years.

MEDICARE: Because undocumented immigrants put billions into Medicare over the past decade and took very little out, there is now a $100 billion surplus in the Medicare fund.

HOUSING MARKETS:  Immigration reform could create 3 million new homeowners who would pump $500 billion into the economy through new taxes and employment opportunities.

US ECONOMY & FEDERAL DEFICIT:  In the next 10 years, immigration reform would boost the economy by $1.5 trillion and slash the deficit by $2.5 trillion.

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