Keep Calm and Let Them Stay

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 18:51

To read the news you would think that the arrival this year of about a hundred thousand unaccompanied minors from Central America is a huge crisis. Calm down, this is not even a small crisis. It is a tiny, one time event, that has been going on for a few years, it is almost over and is not likely to be repeated.


Let me explain. It is tiny. 100,000 is 0.03% of our population it means that one child has arrived for every 3100 people already here. Get a grip. We are not being overwhelmed.

It is a one time event. The increase in the patrolling at the border in the past decade has made circular migrations* much more difficult. The barriers at the border separated many families and stranded children away from their parents. Finally the current administrations lax enforcement policy about immigration (which we at Rational Immigration applaud) and a new law meant to apply to refugees has encouraged a chain migration** of young people from Central America to the USA. This flow has been happening and increasing for several years because it works for the families involved.

It is almost over. Chain migrations have been well studied and they almost always end abruptly. The receiving country becomes less welcoming or the pool of potential migrants from the sending country dries up and the migration ends. The same dynamics are happening to this migration. It will end soon and both sides will claim the credit.

This migration is unlikely to be repeated. Think what was necessary for this one. A base of adults living in the USA from a country with a land bridge to the USA. Central America is the only area of the world that meets this criteria. Anybody else that wanted to come would almost certainly have to buy an airline ticket that requires a passport and a visa.

Why is this movement of so few seen by so many as a crisis? In a word politics. In democracies almost nothing gets done unless there is a crisis. So both sides try to invent crises to further their agendas.

Addenda: the Republicans are losing this one because it is never good politics to be mean to children.

*Circular migration is when people move to a new place and then back home with the flow of work and opportunity.

**Chain migration is when people follow in the footsteps of previous migrants who have successfully moved.