Family Security Matters
On his return from a meeting with regional leaders in Guatemala, Vice President Joe Biden penned an op-ed for The Hill newspaper in Washington DC. In it, he laid out the Obama administration’s plans to promote economic development in Central America with an eye to reducing illegal immigration from that turbulent region to the United States. The proposals were astounding not because of their goal, though one can question how sincere the administration is about curbing illegal immigration given how warmly it has embraced those who have crossed the U.S. border without permission; but because they are based on principles that President Barack Obama has rejected here at home.
One of the first items Biden mentioned was “complete the construction of a gas pipeline from Mexico to Central America, making energy more affordable for consumers.” Though the idea of a pipeline has been around for some time, working groups were only set up last October to study the various regulatory, financial, commercial and budget issues involved for a gas pipeline from Mexico to Guatemala. Last Friday (March 13), Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico, Otto Perez Molina, President of Guatemala, and Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras signed a commitment to the construction of the gas pipeline at a ceremony in Mexico’s National Palace. The $530 million project is still looking for foreign investment, though the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) may fund much of it. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno of Columbia was part of the Guatemala meeting with Biden and the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It is not clear if some of the $1 billion the Obama administration has requested in its 2016 budget for support of Central American projects will go the pipeline. However, the U.S. provides 30.1% of the IDB’s capital.
There is no question that providing more and cheaper energy will boost economic growth; something which is also true for North America. Yet, President Obama has vetoed a bipartisan Congressional bill to authorize the long delayed Keystone XL pipeline which would bring oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency imposed new “clean air” standards to reduce methane emissions from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells, the source of America’s astounding growth in production. Unfortunately, Obama’s Green supporters oppose “fracking” and want it curtailed. The Greens want Americans to lower their standard of living rather than find new, cost effective ways to power an advanced civilization. As the Sierra Club has stated, “We must promote tough federal and state safeguards and repeal the numerous federal exemptions that the natural gas industry enjoys. We must also support local communities that wish to restrict gas development.”
Will the Sierra Club and other Green radicals now move against the Central American pipeline venture? Or are they only interested in promoting stagnation in North America?
Biden stressed another key element in his column,
Improvements in security are essential. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have three of the five highest per capita murder rates in the world. But some communities in Guatemala and El Salvador are already seeing reductions in violence from well-proven U.S.-sponsored programs in community policing, specialized training, and youth centers similar to the Boys and Girls Clubs. We want to help their governments extend these programs to help stabilize neighborhoods and eradicate transnational criminal networks that threaten Central America’s communities and our own.
According to the White House fact sheet for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, Honduras will recruit, train, and deploy an additional 6,000 police over the next three years. Yet, in the U.S., the Obama administration has joined the Left’s long campaign to undermine law enforcement nation wide. This effort is particularly marked in America’s most crime ridden urban centers where killings related to transnational criminal networks—-i.e. the drug trade and street gangs, are the leading cause of death among minority youth.
Liberals and the community leaders they favor continue to make martyrs out of thugs with criminal records who assault police officers. Meanwhile, the people who are the engines of economic growth and job creation are kicked to the curb as their shops are looted and burned. The fundamental duty of the police to protect the lawful and productive against predators and parasites is proclaimed as “racist” and “oppressive” even when the primary beneficiaries of a strong police presence are of the same race as the thugs who seek to make them victims. Last November, Obama said, “Nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.” But his policies do not follow that truth.
Central American governments teeter towards becoming failed states because of the corrupting influence of the money and political power of criminal cartels, backed by armed supporters. That problem, however, is not limited to our southern neighbors. There are those in America who also embrace the money and political clout of the worst elements of our urban communities, and even seek to justify their brutal actions as an expression of revolutionary justice. We have, thus, seen people flee U.S. cities for the same reason people flee those in Central America.
Crime needs to be stopped at both ends of the transnational network as well as in the middle with secure borders to prevent the movement of criminals and contraband. The Obama-Biden strategy is woefully incomplete. The capital investments they want to see flow into depressed areas on both sides of the border will not appear until “law and order” prevails. And it will take more than feel good youth clubs to break the hold of street gangs and drug addicts. Violent crime in America has declined as the bad guys have been taken out of circulation. The need is to expand that lesson to Central America without forgetting it here.
Even if everything in the Alliance for Progress was implemented effectively, the material gap between Central America and the United States is so vast it will take generations to narrow enough to dampen the allure of migration northward. Per capita GDP in El Salvador was $3,826 in 2013 (the most recent World Bank data); $3,478 in Guatemala and only $2,291 in Honduras. In the U.S. the figure was $53,042. So the menace of illegal immigration is not going to go away by itself. Secure borders and policies that discourage any belief that illegal immigration can succeed will be needed far into the future.
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