Last night, President Trump continued his efforts to demonstrate to the American people that there is a "crisis along the U.S./Mexico border. To assist the public to assess the claims, The Conversation offers "6 essential reads."
1. Most Central American migrants are asylum-seekers
Central American migration is heavily driven by fear, according to researcher Jonathan Hiskey of Vanderbilt University.
2. Central American teens face particular risk
While overall crime and violence have declined across Central America in recent years, one population is in more danger. “Youth homicides in the region are now over 20 per 100,000 – that’s four times the global average,” says immigration researcher Julio Ernesto Acuna Garcia.
3. Most migrants are turned away
The majority of asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border today won’t be allowed to stay. Central Americans fleeing gang violence are rarely granted asylum, says Abigail Stepnitz, of the University of California, Berkeley.
4. The border is not a national security threat
Trump tends to ignore the fact that most Central American migrants are refugees from violence. Instead, administration officials falsely claim that immigrants are criminals, or that Middle Eastern terrorists are infiltrating the country’s southern border. In doing so, they create the impression that the border is a national security threat. This strategy is called the “politics of insecurity,” writes University of Saskatchewan policy researcher Daniel Béland, and it’s a favorite of populists worldwide.
5. Immigrants don’t cause crime
The Salvadoran street gang MS-13, in particular, has played a starring role in many Trump threats, as it did in his recent televised address. Anthony Fontes, a professor at the American University School of International Service, studies MS-13. He says conservative politicians often leverage the brutal image of this Salvadoran street gang to serve their political agendas.
6. Immigration is good for the economy
Immigrants, even those who enter the country unlawfully, often benefit the American economy, too. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. have become vital to key U.S. industries, says Mary Jo Dudley, director of the Cornell Farmworker Program at Cornell University. Undocumented immigrants make up more than half of the nation’s farmworkers and 15 percent of construction laborers.