By Adam Gaffney, Salon.com
August 2, 2014
There seems to be a general consensus that we should be addressing not only the symptoms, but also the “root causes” of rising emigration from Central America. But what are they? On the right, the influx of children from the region is said to be the predictable result of our allegedly lenient immigration policy; mass deportation, therefore, is supposedly the obvious solution. “[I]mmediately deport these families, these children,” demands Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, in “plane loads,” specifies Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Closer to the center, the causes of immigration from the region are typically said to be rising gang violence, the drug trade and the drug war and – to a lesser extent – poverty.
With the exception of our immigration policy, it’s obvious these factors are playing a major role in encouraging emigration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But if we are to speak of true “root causes,” we have to look deeper still: first, to the gross inequality from which these social maladies arise, and second, to the political forces that have maintained and enforced this economic status quo, decade after decade. The implications of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” for the developed world have been much discussed, but the meaning of inequality for poor countries is no less: The crisis of Central American immigration, I would argue, is a crisis of inequality, tragically manifested.[...]
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