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Some Facts for the Immigration Crisis Discussion

NBC Bay Area has a pretty good run down of the situation here:  Kids Crossing the Border: What to Know About the Immigration Crisis.

A key fact that is useful in trying to determine whether the simplistic narrative that is all about Obama administration policies on immigration or not is the following:

Migrant children aren’t just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

This, of course, suggests that other factors are at work.  

For example:

Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren’t far behind.

Also:

Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line,according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala’s poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

This is a complex and long-term problem linked to any number of local issues as well as US policies (not the least of which is the War on Drugs, which has pushed a lot of this violence in Central America in the last decade).   Anyone who touts a simplistic narrative (or a simplistic solution) is either engaging in petty partisanship or doesn’t know what they are talking about (or, more likely than not, both).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    Wow. We really are getting the richest poor kids over here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    This is a complex and long-term problem linked to any number of local issues as well as US policies (not the least of which is the War on Drugs, which has pushed a lot of this violence in Central America in the last decade). Anyone who touts a simplistic narrative (or a simplistic solution) is either engaging in petty partisanship or doesn’t know what they are talking about (or, more likely than not, both).

    This is so true Steven. Both the war on drugs and misguided US foreign policy for decades.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I might add everyone in the Americas is an immigrant and yes that includes the native Americans. There were several waves of people who came from Asia 10 to 15,000 years ago and the later waves often displaced those from earlier waves. As I noted in this post even that is not always clear.

    There had been a few discoveries that had put into question the Siberia/land bridge theory but nothing more spectacular the the discovery of the nearly complete skeleton of the Kennewick Man on the shores of the Columbia River in 1996. Judging from the shape of the skull it was assumed the remains were those of an early settler or trapper. But then an ancient stone spear point was found in the hip of the remains

    …..
    A

    sample was sent out for radio carbon dating and it was determined the remains were 9,600 years old..

    It was decided he most resembled the Ainu of Japan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. de stijl says:

    It’s a lot more fun and usually much more politically advantageous to demagogue an issue rather than actually trying to address and solve a problem.

    Steven, you made a fatal mistake in bringing facts into a politically divisive issue. It’s like bringing a search engine to a gun fight.

    ————-

    More seriously, I don’t really see the long term benefit to Republicans for flogging this issue in the way the have addressed it. Yeah, it riles up the base, but those folks were going to pull the lever for the Rs anyway, but it also reinforces the opinion of non-Rs that there is never ever a reason to ever vote for a Republican again in their lifetime.

    Balancing an issue on the backs of unaccompanied minors is just super bad optics. Shouting at buses looks a lot like the shocking photos of white people hatefully screaming at Elizabeth Eckford as she is walking towards Little Rock Central High School.

    This is the 2014 version of Terri Schiavo. The base eats it up, but it strikes everyone else as cruel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. de stijl says:

    Othering, as a political tactic, only works when the numbers are overwhelmingly on your side.

    One of the results of othering an out-group is those folks will never ever ever vote for you or support you. In fact, they may do everything in their power to see you defeated. You’ve created a lifelong enemy.

    Also, those with friends and family of those who have been deemed the Other, depending on their level of empathy, may well adapt the same enmity towards the offenders. Again, you’ve created another lifelong enemy.

    The direct effect is pretty self-explanatory, but a lot of the secondary effect has to do with our attitudes towards the underdog, the little guy, the dispossessed, the disenfranchised.

    It may be a tautology, but no one roots for the Yankees except for Yankee fans.

    No one in Sioux Falls or Durango or Tupelo is going to be pulling for the Yankees over the Twins or the Indians or the A’s in the ALCS. You wanna see the underdog win. We love a Cinderella story. No one even knows the names of Cinderella’s Mean Girl stepsisters or stepmother. Even though the Yankees are currently in a down cycle, psychologically everyone still sees them as the Big Boys, the checkbook bullies, the employers of mercenaries.

    The Republicans are starting to look a lot like the Yankees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. superdestroyer says:

    @de stijl:

    So the solution is open borders and the free movement of people in and out of the U.S. How will that be a winner for the Republicans. How is higher taxes, fewer good neighborhoods, poorer schools, higher insurance premiums, and a lower quality of life a good thing for Repulbicans. How is the idea of giving having children and grandchildren in order to have enough money to avoid poor people a good thing for Republicans?

    The idea that pandering to poor third world immigrants is a good thing for the more conservative party is idiotic.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer: I just love how you lay all this

    higher taxes, fewer good neighborhoods, poorer schools, higher insurance premiums, and a lower quality of life

    at the feet of immigrants, without a single fact to back it up, just pure conjecture on your part. Racist much?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  8. de stijl says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I love how you took nothing I actually said (bad optics and the political tactic of Othering) and turned it into yet another reason to flog your dead horse. I didn’t even address the actual policy considerations. Like, at all.

    And yet your poor dead horse got flogged once again.

    That horse is fully and fundamentally dead. Bereft of life. No amount of flogging will ever revive the poor beast. But I have faith in you – you will continue to flog. It’s your raison d’etre. Your great white whale.

    Your poor dead horse is not pining for the fjords. He has passed on. He has ceased to be.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  9. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl: Y

    eah, it riles up the base, but those folks were going to pull the lever for the Rs anyway, but it also reinforces the opinion of non-Rs that there is never ever a reason to ever vote for a Republican again in their lifetime.

    I think you’re overestimating the degree to which this is a partisan issue. There’s plenty of xenophobia to go around, and some traditional bastions of Democratic voting (like trade unions) are just as anti-immigration as the Republican core. There’s also a pretty sizable middle that has empathy for the abandoned children streaming across the border, but not for adult arrivals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Will a substantial number of Democrats or lean D people change their voting patterns and vote for a Republican based on this issue?

    There’s also a pretty sizable middle that has empathy for the abandoned children streaming across the border, but not for adult arrivals.

    But yet they’ve decided to focus on the kids which just looks cruel. And the video looks way too much like Little Rock or the Boston bus protests. I can’t see how the way they’re framing this issue gets the Rs any new votes they were not going to get anyway. It’s red meat for the base.

    Is there xenophobia in the Democratic bloc? Sure. But only one party is holding up immigration reform and it ain’t them. I don’t see any electoral upside to the way that Republicans are handling this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Recent immigrants comsume much more in state and local taxes than they pay? People living in areas with large number of illegal immigrants pay higher car insurance because of uninsured motorist and poor driving rates. States and cities with large numbers of illegal aliens have lower pay due to downward pressure on wages and higher costs since people do not want to live near large number of third world immigrants. Look at expensive it is in California to live in the good neigbhorhoods with the good schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @de stijl:

    How does it benefit Republicans to support open borders and unlimited immigration. You said that there is no long term future in being anti-immigrant but how does it help middle class and blue collar whites (the core of the Republican Party) to support amnesty, open borders, and the free movement of people. How does it help Republicans to create conditions where one must know Spanish to get a job as a police officer or a public school teacher?

    In the long run, supporting open borders and amnesty would just be a form of political suicide for any conservative party in the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  13. dmhlt says:

    Well, Mr. Taylor, you’re coming awfully close to casting aspersions on Screwy Louie’s asparagus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @superdestroyer: “In the long run, supporting open borders and amnesty would just be a form of political suicide for any conservative party in the U.S.”

    “conservatives” have already committed political suicide. We simply wait for the headless chicken to keel over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  15. Tyrell says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Many states and counties have had to cut budgets in the last several years, and many a school system has seen reduction in funding. This has resulted in staff cuts, and cancellation of new construction – bringing about overloaded schools and classrooms. So in some schools around here students are sitting on shelves and in hallways, much to the consternation of the police and fire departments. So just a small increase in the enrollments here would worsen things. There is also the language issue. While most Hispanic students are fluent in English, some aren’t. Teachers who are ESL certified are rare around here. No one will go through the extra training and education needed to help these students, especially considering that teachers’ pay in this state is about what unskilled laborers and fast food workers get. So a large, even a small influx of new students would have an effect, no matter where they come from.
    Get this: the governor of Maryland said that he favors letting these people stay, but not in his state! Typical politicians’ doubletalk.
    One city that could have a lot of available properties and space for these people is Detroit. From what I hear people are getting out of there faster than a twinkie gets gone at a weight watchers convention !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. wr says:

    @Tyrell: So the answer is… restore tax rates to where they were before they were slashed beyond what was needed, restore school funding, pay teachers better, get a good ESL immersion program going.

    Or we could scream about how immigrant kids are bringing Ebola to the USA.

    I know which course the Republicans have chosen. Which do you want?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  17. Tyrell says:

    @wr: Good idea. I have always supported tax increases for schools – as long as the money went to the classroom, not to the administration. Trouble is that around here there’s about as much chance of a tax increase as snow in July. No politician would even think about it, and few people would vote for it. ESL program : low priority here, right above floor buffers and pencil sharpeners (hand crank).
    “Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more” (J. Paycheck)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    Are you really going to argue that there should be no restraint on the level of taxes demand by school systems to pay for classes for illegal immigrants or U.S. born children? Do you really think that having no restraint on spending will be a good thing in the long run.

    Or are we back to the progressive’s magic wand that gives them what they want with no downside consequences?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Are you really going to argue that there should be no restraint on the level of taxes demand by school systems…?

    Hmm…that’s not what he wrote…

    So the answer is… restore tax rates to where they were before they were slashed beyond what was needed…

    Do at least try to pay attention…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. Barry says:

    @de stijl: “More seriously, I don’t really see the long term benefit to Republicans for flogging this issue in the way the have addressed it. Yeah, it riles up the base, but those folks were going to pull the lever for the Rs anyway, but it also reinforces the opinion of non-Rs that there is never ever a reason to ever vote for a Republican again in their lifetime.”

    Riling them up gets them to the polls. Turnout and voter suppression are key strategies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Trouble is that around here there’s about as much chance of a tax increase as snow in July. No politician would even think about it, and few people would vote for it. ESL program : low priority here, right above floor buffers and pencil sharpeners (hand crank).”

    Maybe that’s because everyone who shares your values also thinks no one else does. Why don’t you go out and start working for these things?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “Are you really going to argue that there should be no restraint on the level of taxes demand by school systems to pay for classes for illegal immigrants or U.S. born children? Do you really think that having no restraint on spending will be a good thing in the long run.”

    Gosh, SD, if you can’t tell the difference between raising tax rates to where they were a couple of decades ago and having unlimited taxes… you must be a Teapublican!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do you really think that having no restraint on spending will be a good thing in the long run.

    Or are we back to the progressive’s magic wand that gives them what they want with no downside consequences?

    Straw Man Alert!
    Who is talking about no restraint on spending?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0