Roger L. Simon

Build the Wall to Save Central America

Build the Wall to Save Central America
A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent passes along a section of border fence in Hidalgo, Texas, on Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It’s hardly surprising that despite all the non-stop political posturing around our Southern border by presidential candidates and others — not to mention the brain-dead comparisons to Nazis and the Holocaust — we hear little about real solutions to the immigration crisis.

What is suggested is usually that we should do something to improve conditions in Central America, specifically El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, the benighted lands from whence the constant migrant caravans are emanating. (Some are coming from Africa now, but the numbers are still small.). That way, it is reasoned, the families would want to stay home.

Good idea on the face of it, but the method being proposed — foreign aid — is almost always a failure. In fact, due to corruption and other non-politically correct factors, it’s very much the reverse. This isn’t original thinking on my part; it’s pretty well known. As Juliette Lyons wrote back in 2014:

…in African countries at least, and in Sub-Saharan Africa more particularly: home to the largest portion on the world’s “bottom million” in extreme poverty. Since the 1950s traditional development economics has been dominated by the idea that large donations  is the solution to the savings gap in developing countries but evidence shows that large influxes of foreign aid can end up doing more harm than good.
An analysis of the economic growth in Asia over the past decades, which has received little foreign aid in comparison to Africa, is a good starting point. Reports from the World Bank show that out of the 700 million people who were pulled out of poverty between 1981 and 2010, 627 million of them were in China. That leaves us with 73 million throughout the rest of the world. In other words, 89.6% were from China, giving us a clear indication that foreign aid isn’t the answer.
Five years before that, Dambisa Moyo wrote similarly in Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa:
In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.
Of course, there are exceptions, most often where diseases and natural disasters are concerned, but aid, in general, appears to have been a failure. Would it do better in Central America? Doubtful.
So what makes dysfunctional countries functional? Getting their act together. Facing reality. Electing decent officials. Doing something for their own country as citizens, starting businesses, farming, construction, etc. In other words, hard work.
That’s not easy. But all those families and faux families making their way to our Southern border and then crossing over with equally faux claims of asylum only exacerbate things for their countries of origin. They also drain those countries of good hard-working people. Some, anyway.
The best thing that can happen for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras is for us to build a wall, a real one, that covers the entire Southern border (with gateways, obviously). And, yes, AOC, you can build walls in mountainous regions. It’s been done before — about 2500 years ago. That’s before iPhones, congresswoman.
This wall would signal to migrants that the USA was serious. We want legal immigrants only. Or ones on some form of work permit.
Want a better life? Go through that legal process, onerous as it may be, or, better yet, build that life yourself in your own land.
The wall would be tough love. The Central American countries would have to learn to deal with their own problems, to advance their own development. It’s the only way that ever happens. (Even the vaunted Marshall Plan was not all that it was cracked up to be. The European country that got the least reconstruction aid was the one that came out on top economically — Germany.)
Ironically, the wall might end up doing more for Central America than it does for us.
Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media — is an award-winning author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. Look for his new novel soon.