Georgie Anne Geyer
More than 30 years ago, I began going down to the U.S.-Mexico border on a regular basis. I was a correspondent covering Latin America, and I knew, appreciated and loved the unique beauty of its undulating rivers and mountains, and of its peoples, who then seemed to have created along the now-traumatized border a kind of naturally ordered little state of their own.
There, Mexicans and Americans mixed with a pleasant congeniality, in great part because emigration from “El Sur” to “El Norte” was small, unthreatening and manageable. But even then, there were warnings.
The populations of tiny Central American states would soon burst, without rational leadership. Speaking with El Salvador’s anti-birth control Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle in San Salvador, I asked about how the country’s uncontrolled birth rate was feeding the bitter wars of the 1980s. He simply smiled and told me smugly, “Belgium is smaller than Salvador, and it has far more people.”
Salvadorans, as Belgians?
Thus, when I spoke in 1983 at the California Seminar on International Security and Foreign Policy in Los Angeles, I found myself predicting that “the threat present in Central America, which was not present in Vietnam, is the threat to the territorial integrity of the United States. … It could cause a flow of immigrants to the United States and further fragmentation in the American society.”
And now, as the “caravans” of thousands of those same Central Americans push north, we must ask again whether there is any real hope for change in American policy that could develop these countries and keep their people at home. Why is it not possible, at the same time, to hammer out the long-awaited comprehensive immigration policy that would replace all the ranting and raving with reason and moderation?
First, we have the ongoing domination of Trumpian “policies”: sending in excess of 5,000 troops to control the border, effectively illegally employing the military for partisan purposes; dividing parents and children in scenes that shocked the world; lying about the true nature of the “caravans” and the entire immigration picture itself.
By Georgie Anne Geyer for CHICAGO SUN TIMES
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