Posted tagged ‘latin america’

Is There A Problem With Immigrants?

October 25, 2018

President Trump has made building a wall between the US and Mexico a signature goal of his Administration.  At each campaign stop the President finds a way to focus on the wall and deftly switches the subject away from “why there are so many latinos trying to seek asylum” to “the claim that those seeking asylum are drug dealers, rapists, or welfare seekers”.  Hardly, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” written on the Stature of Liberty.

President Trump is doing no one any favors with his rhetoric.  As a business man, Trump and his Trump companies have enjoyed the lower priced labor of foreign workers and tossed them away when the work or season has ended.  And, migrant laborers are key to farm and agriculture in many American States, essential to timely harvests. 

But, humanitarian considerations for Latin American immigrants is a much more nuanced issue.

There is the moral consideration that a wealthy entity should have towards a poorer one.  Most religious faiths emphasize charity, and the Christian faith traditions make this their build board self descriptor.  Yet, in this case, large numbers of Christians are lining up to support Trump and turn a back upon these poor immigrants.

Potential immigrants come in two varieties, refugees and processed new arrivals.  The first group is seeking relief from oppression and the second is simply seeking admittance for some specific purpose, such as education, work, or recreation (like Disney World or accessing their vacation home).

Economic immigrants, that is those fleeing their country because they cannot find work, are a sub-group of both refugee and normal immigrants.  Economic immigrants have been generally considered undeserving of permanent residency.  The view has been that this group do not bring skills, are more likely to displace American low wage workers and are more likely to require social services for some period of time before they become productive residents.

Those seeking asylum (in order to escape human rights abuses) must, by International Agreements, be given due process over whether their claim for asylum is valid.  The Trump team appear to see all immigrants as “economic” immigrants and therefore pictures them as intent on “stealing” jobs from American workers.  Hmmm.

Latin American immigrants are mostly family oriented, hard working, and willing to do what is necessary to blend into the American Dream.  Turning them summarily away violates both international norms as well as invites the “knock-on” effects of why the asylum seeker were seeking asylum at all.

Wether President Trump or any of his fellow travelers in Congress like it or not, turning a blind eye on Latin America only hastens the further collapse of these countries.  Weak, dysfunctional countries are ripe for lawlessness, terrorism, and/or forming alliances with countries not friendly to the US.  In short, if the President wants countries a short distance from our shores allying themselves with Russia or China, it would appear he has forged the perfect foreign policy to achieve this.

A transactional mentality does not see beyond the next deal.  If the US does not want excessive numbers of refugees or economic immigrants streaming across the borders, the US needs a foreign aid program aimed at stabilizing and then building local Latin American economies.  

Hungry or frightened people flee, those who are food sufficient and feel safe do not.

A Sense of Genius?

April 19, 2009

We are still in the very early days of the Obama Administration, and it is too early to predict its long term success.  It is not too early to observe that compared to previous Administrations, the Obama team is laying down very promising early markers.

In order to gain the necessary space and time to deal with the rot within the American economic and social systems, President Obama recognized he must create the space by altering the US foreign policy.  In effect he is attempting to tune down known sources of distractions and diversions.  The genius of these diplomatic moves is that they appear to be headed in a productive direction and if pursued seriously could truly make the world more stable.

  • Russia – Obama has stopped poking a stick into Russia’s eye whenever it has a chance as did the Bush Administration and there have been immediate results.  Obama will (and should) back away from the anti-missile foolishness, especially the deployment in the Czech Republic and Poland.  In addition to easing tensions with Russia, the US stands to save some money that otherwise would be wasted on this program.  Russia is a key player in any future relations with Iran (supplier of Iran’s nuclear technology and some equipment) so even a Russia in neutral is an improvement.
  • China – Obama has prudently avoided policies critical of China such as its currency manipulation, its relations with Tibet, and the ageless agitation that contact with Taiwan predictably causes when the US speaks out in favor of Taiwan.  China is a key influencer in Africa and the “go to country” for relations with North Korea.
  • Iran – One of the two cornerstone countries in the Middle East, Iran has been isolated and insulted for purely US domestic political reasons during the Bush years.  Iran is the route to ending the senseless extremism in the Middle East and if left alone will complete the development of its nuclear bomb knowhow and become the distributor of that information through out the rest of the world.  The first step is to treat Iran with respect accorded any other sovereign State.
  • Syria – The second cornerstone and another country that the Bush Administration treated shamelessly.  As with most examples of Bush foreign policy, no thought was given to the consequences of US policy and as a result we got a Syria that cooperated with its natural enemy Iran to fuel the extremists in Lebanon and Palestine.  Again respect and ceasing the vitriolic rhetoric is doing wonders on changing Syria’s behavior.
  • Iraq – The most undeniable symbol of foolish and failed US foreign policy is now repaired.  After the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US left a broken country in its wake.  Morally it was America’s duty to help repair the country before leaving (even though it was Dick Cheney’s goal to stay indefinitely there).  President Obama has made it clear that the US is leaving.
  • Afghanistan/Pakistan – Obama has tweaked the US effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan (that atrophied during President Bush’s watch).  The effort now envisions a cross boarder problem and relies less upon a nation building mission.  This should keep the area under some level of control and keep open options for the future.
  • Latin and South America – One of the areas where traditional US foreign policy has seemed to mishandle or over look altogether.  President Obama has changed all that with both new policies and personal diplomacy.  Coming to grips with a senseless Cuban policy and introducing realistic measures that can deal with the emerging socialist governments (Venezuela and Bolivia) will be worthwhile goals.  These will be long term efforts but they need to start someplace.

With all these balls in the air, it is difficult to expect everything to go according to plan.  President Obama, despite his good intentions and efforts, should expect for relations with these various countries to have difficulties.  The good news is that his early moves are in the right direction and any missteps should land not too far from a positive direction.  So if President Obama uses the time these moves may buy to make his domestic initiatives and revive the American economy, the US will be in a more healthy and more capable position to focus again on these world hot spots.