President Trump has tapped into Americans’ anxiety about illegal immigration by promising to build a wall on our 2,000-mile border with Mexico. However, the vast majority of illegal migrants pouring over our southwest border are from Central America.
The Obama administration’s prescription was pledging billions of dollars in new US assistance, and Congress is considering this. But unless we insist that these nations make their economies more competitive and their institutions less corrupt, we will be pouring good money after bad and failing to stem the tide of immigration at its source.
Less than nine years ago, Bush administration officials spoke of Central American countries as robust economic partners — with which we traded more than with global giants like India. Today, we speak of them as faltering economies that need to be propped up by foreign aid.