Thursday, May 7, 2009

How do we solve illegal immigration from Latin America?

Development.

As long as there is a significant difference in the standards of living of neighboring countries, people will continue to migrate.  Incredible poverty and little opportunity are very powerful drivers.  It becomes about survival.

First, we need to ask ourselves what is it that we really want out of solving this problem.  A larger and more equitable economic block with a better standard of living for all .... or just to continue to have access to cheap labor.  

If the answer is the former, then the only real solution is the long-term and sustainable development of this region through a Strategic Plan, a la Marshal Plan after WWII, with clear and measurable goals.  And, because corruption would likely be the key obstacle for any direct help, the plan should focus on encouraging sizable direct private investments instead. 

So, if Development is the long-term solution, what can be done now?  If you ask illegal immigrants, what the one thing is that they wish the most - the answer is always to be able to go back to their homes and families on a regular basis.   So, what about letting people go back and forth on temporary Work Permits in the meantime?  Not easy to implement, but worth trying if a long-term Development plan is underway. 

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