Law of unintended consequences pulls and pushes in current immigration problem

Sunday, July 13th, 2014
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

The flow of families with children and unaccompanied minors has been dominating the news recently. The causes of the trend are beginning to be explored with some care and insight by the media after at first relying on, I hate to say it, the imbecilic conspiracy theories of Texas Governor Rick Perry (I hate to say imbecilic theories, so, Rick Perry fans, I have not said his theories are imbecilic) and the Republican Party’s blame President Obama answer to any question.  I predict that within a year or two Republicans will be blaming global warming on President Obama – “If only he led instead of making speeches, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

I discussed some of the causes of the family surge here and the media has discovered the the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) and the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) program the TVPRA created based on a noble goal of protecting children, except Mexican children, from abuse, abandonment, or neglect. There is little doubt that the unintended consequences of poor funding of immigration programs and the humanitarian goals of the TVPRA have contributed to the present border problem. I resist the hyperbolic reference to this problem as a crisis. The U.S. is dealing with the arrival of approximately 50,000 families and children fleeing the ravages to our south. In a country of 318 million, that is a problem. Jordan, a country of 6.6 million, has had to deal with 1.2 million refugees fleeing the ravages to its north. That is a crisis.

The immigration funding issues and the TVPRA have had  unintended consequences as pull factors – factors attracting families and children to the United States. However, in addition, there are unintended consequences of U.S. policy that have created many push factors – reasons that lead families and children to leave their Central American homes.

America’s history of involvement in Latin America  has led to the poverty and oppression that people are fleeing. You don’t have to be a Marxist political scientist to see that funding and support of right wing dictators, armies, and militias over impoverished peasants and indigenous populations seeking a little justice and a little piece of the pie is going to have the unintended consequence of causing people to leave their countries out of fear and need.

Deporting U.S. resident gang members back to Central America by the thousands per year since 2001 has had the unintended consequence of causing gang violence to pervade Central America. Supporting a drug war in South America and Mexico has had the unintended consequence of moving the drug violence to Central America.

It is not like America has been sitting around minding its business and suddenly thousands and thousands of people are showing up at our borders. It is caused by the unintended consequences of U.S. policies. More enforcement and abrogating laws providing for human rights protections may help stem the flow a little by reducing some of the pull factors, but without seriously addressing U.S. policies that lead to unintended push factors, the problem will not be solved. Despite making it more miserable for people to come and stay in the United States, it is still going to be more attractive to try than facing  torture and death in Latin America so people will continue to come. Posted July 13, 2014.


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