Center for Immigration Studies' latest bizarre "solution" to reducing immigration

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Center for Immigration Studies’ latest ‘genius’ idea involves the U.S. government either offering direct payments to residents in three Latin American countries or paying for birth control.

The so-called “low immigration, pro-immigrant” think tank recently released their Biden Plan for the Northern Triangle suggesting a bribe to those in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras so they don’t attempt to move to America. Those already in the U.S. or sitting at the Mexican border would get $2500 each, while those currently in higher immigration areas get $1000 each. Individuals in medium or lower countries get $750 and $500 respectively. It’s less than the cash the U.S. handed out to certain taxpayers in total coronavirus direct payments from 2020 and 2021, and for around 33.1M people. Estimated total costs for the payments are $12.5B, which CIS explains is worth happening due to the federal government’s current spending spree (deficits don’t matter anymore, apparently, until they will).

Caveats and hidden costs exist. CIS appears to want the government to pay for bus rides and flights for those in the U.S. and on the border to their home countries. The proposal also includes delaying some payments under the idea it will give people incentive to stay home for longer.

“[T]he dollar goes further in the NT than in the U.S.,” CIS fellow David North writes while admitting his figures are just estimates. “If a family of two parents and a 15-year-old, now at our border accepted the $7,500 offer, it could mean life-changing benefits back home, such as the purchase of a herd of sheep, or equipping and opening a shoe repair shop, or buying a car and starting a taxi service, or funding a year or two of college.”

This is asinine for a couple of reasons, notwithstanding the fact, all three countries appear consumed by violence. These so-called “life-changing benefits” might only benefit the gangs or corrupt government officials looking to profit from harsh coronavirus lockdown measures and their drug war. Who’s to stop the gangs from forcing people to relocate for the cash, then stealing the money? Why start a business when people live in fear of gangs and the government? Why not spend the money to buy a plane ticket out of the country to escape and take the risk of a better life elsewhere?

Another issue involves the potential for fraud. One has to think families on the border will be willing to lie about their country of origin, allowing them to illegally benefit from the direct payments. Those living in so-called ‘medium or lower’ areas could just attempt to move to higher areas in hopes of raking in more cash, forcing the U.S. federal government to spend more cash.

A final kicker North and his CIS friends might not like: the chance of increasing the current issues on the U.S.-Mexico border. Let’s say a family hears they can earn $7500 at the border. Why not take the risk and run to the border in hopes of getting money? That stick of, “Oh, we’re going to delay payments,” may not stop anyone that desperate for cash. It’s naive to consider this as a real solution.

Let’s not forget the U.S. government is already doing this on a smaller scale. Reuters reported earlier this month the Biden administration sent cash to Central America to help people meet so-called basic needs. It’s not working now, so why keep this option going if people are still coming for “free money.” Mexico is doing its own program which may or may not be working either.

Of course, CIS doesn’t stop there. Their other “idea” of reducing immigration to America is to spend federal cash on birth control access in hopes of keeping women from birthing babies.

“Part of the problem in the Northern Triangle is that the populations in these nations are heavily tipped toward young people, assuring us of expanding numbers of women in their reproductive years in the decades to come…” North opines before writing Guatemala’s population is mostly under 30. “Girls under the age of five currently will, 25 years from now, be in their peak years of fertility, and that cohort will be twice as large as that of the 25- to 29-year-olds now. Even with a sharp reduction in the number of births per 1,000 women, the total number of births in the nation will keep on climbing.”

Isn’t this at odds with the conservative belief of not being in favor of taxpayer-funded birth control? Should the federal government be spending money to pay for abortions, contraceptives, or condoms? It seems odd for a group linked to conservatives and the Republican Party (despite allegedly being nonpartisan) to find it a-OK for the government to pay for birth control in other countries. Of course, it’s not surprising since this is the same group co-founded by someone who wrote an essay promoting passive eugenics.

Better solutions exist but are more long-term. The George W. Bush Institute noted regulatory barriers are preventing companies from investing in the Northern Triangle. Some of it has to do with the fact the economies of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras need further liberalization while allowing more personal freedom. The lack of opportunities means migrants/immigrants/whatever you want to call them will seek opportunities elsewhere. Forcing gangs to go legit could lead to a reduction in crime and weaken their power over the populace.

It’s easy to suggest handing out federal cash will end up being the solution to problems ailing populations. However, as we’ve seen in the U.S., the solutions only end up exacerbating the problem. CIS’ proposal on encouraging direct payments to foreigners to stay home and more birth control won’t help and should be rejected.