There is no mass migration without US interference and militarism
When Vice President Kamala Harris visited the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas in June 25, she reiterated the claim she made on her trip to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month: The Biden administration is committed to tackling the root causes of migration in Central America.
“This issue cannot be reduced to a political issue, ”said Harris. In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“We talk about children, we talk about families, we talk about suffering, and our approach must be thoughtful and effective.
To this end, the administration has established a four-year plan, $4 proposal of one billion euros to increase aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence and poverty that drives people to flee their countries of origin. President Joe Biden also issued an executive order which identifies the main culprits of this current state of affairs as In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“criminal gangs ”, In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“traffic networks’, In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“gender-based and domestic violence ”, and In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“economic insecurity and inequalities.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Biden appears to be following in the footsteps of past administrations in denying the role decades of American interventionism and militarization have played in destabilizing the region. Worse yet, officials like Harris continue to order migrants to stop coming to the United States – even as the United States exacerbates the very crises that encourage migration in the first place.
A story of white supremacy and interventionism
From the beginning 1900s, the United States trained and employed law enforcement officers to patrol the US-Mexico border, giving them virtually unlimited discretion to prevent non-whites from entering the country. US Border Patrol itself is entrenched in white supremacy: at the time of its founding in 1924, many of its members belonged to either the Ku Klux Klan or the Texas Rangers, which amounted to a racist paramilitary force. In addition to beating and humiliating migrants, patrols shot, hanged and disappeared people they said entered the United States outside of official ports of entry. Confident in their impunity, border guards have often tortured migrants to confess, whether or not they entered the country legally.
Even after transferring the border patrol from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice, the U.S. government continued to pass laws that effectively criminalized migration while increasing the agency’s powers. The Hart-Celler Law of 1965 established immigration quotas from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Twenty-nine years later, under President Bill Clinton, the US Border Patrol established a In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“prevention through deterrence ”immigration policy that directs migrants to deadly dangerous ground by closing more common entry points. The policy remains in effect today.
While brutally guarding its southern border, the United States has spent billions of dollars training Latin American security forces in torture, extortion, blackmail and extraordinary renditions. Formerly known as the School of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINESEC) has In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“educated “on 80,000 agents in more than a dozen countries, in addition to border patrol and immigration and customs (ICE) officers. WHINESEC graduates are responsible for countless acts of abuse, murder and disappearance outside of the United States.
The United States has used security forces trained by WHINESEC and other government resources to destabilize leftist governments in Latin America. In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA supported a coup to overthrow the democratically elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz. The Eisenhower administration portrayed Guatemala as a pawn of the Soviet Union; in fact, the land reform proposed by Arbenz threatened American business interests, including the United Fruit Company.
The United States has also played a key role in El Salvador’s civil war since 1980 at 1992, providing the Salvadoran junta with $1 millions every day to crush the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. Meanwhile, the Reagan administration, working alongside the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, began to impose trade policies on Central American countries that benefited large multinational corporations at the expense of local populations.
In 1999, the United States adopted Plan Colombia, allocating more than $8 billion dollars to arm and train the Colombian military and police in a so-called war on drugs. The plan, which targeted both drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas, forcibly displaced nearly 6 millions of Colombians and killed thousands more.
These domestic and foreign policies not only generated massive human suffering, but also waves of forced migration to the United States. The number of Honduran children crossing the border has increased by more than 1,000% in 2014, for example, in the five years since the Obama administration’s assistance in a coup against the democratically elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.
Another example is that immigration from Mexico has doubled since the United States signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, which has undermined small businesses, crushed low-income workers and made migration a matter of survival. School of the Americas Watch, a human rights organization that has long called for the shutdown of WHINESEC, notes that, In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“speak 1980s, migration from the South was not for employment ‘but was rather fueled by the immediate need to flee the In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“conditions created by US foreign policy and intervention.
The founding of the Biden platform
So far, the Biden administration appears to be committed to the status quo when it comes to the southern border and foreign policy in the Americas. US citizenship law proposed by Biden 2021 reflects two long-standing priorities of past immigration bills. First, it floods the Central American countries with money to strengthen local military and police forces to promote In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“rule of law, security and economic development. Second, it is indeed In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“externalizes US border control by funding Mexico to militarize its own southern border states, which also seeks to expand US authority over movements in the wider region.
The United States has pursued similar strategies with the Mérida Initiative (2007) and the Southern Border Program (aka Programa Frontera Sur, 2014). Inspired by Plan Colombia and launched by President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderón, the Mérida Initiative aimed to limit drug trafficking and organized crime by providing Mexico with billions of dollars for equipment, training and military infrastructure. The Initiative has also enhanced security along new In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.“21st– century borders ”that are not contiguous with the United States. From 2013, the US government had funded a dozen forward military bases and a hundred kilometers of security bulkheads along the borders between Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, respectively.
With Programa Frontera Sur, the Obama administration has doubled its efforts, funneling millions of other aid and law enforcement resources to the Mexican government. This time, US aid included equipment such as high-tech observation towers along the Mexico-Guatemala border, as well as intensive training for local Mexican police and immigration officers.
Many countries to which the United States has provided security assistance have adopted this type of militarization. In the beginning, the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras each placed soldiers on the streets to fight drug trafficking. Yet in the years following the entry into force of the Mérida Initiative and the Programa Frontera Sur, rates of homicide and drug-related violence in these countries have only increased.
Biden again demonstrated his commitment to a failed immigration policy in January as nearly 8,000 Hondurans have arrived at the Honduras-Guatemala border seeking refuge from the wrecks of two major hurricanes, the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the extreme violence that has swept through Honduras since the US-backed coup. 2009. Not wanting to break with the previous one, the Biden administration remained 2,000 Guatemalan police and soldiers, armed and trained by the United States, repelled the migrants with tear gas and batons. Several administration officials later congratulated the Guatemalan government for its response.
Towards a fairer and more humane immigration policy
In January 15, a few days before Biden took office, more than 70 Human rights organizations issued a joint letter urging the new administration to make substantial changes to US policy in Central America. Echoing numerous demands made by advocates and organizers for decades, the letter called on the federal government to end security assistance, training and arms sales in the region; increase transparency on the destination and use of US aid; end all economic sanctions against Central American countries; and considerably limit the involvement of the United States in its domestic politics.
Money for further militarization will only intensify the suffering in Central America. If the Biden administration is truly determined to tackle the root cause of forced migration, it must first recognize the destructive force of American interventionism, imperialism and white supremacy. Only then can the administration offer something close to a just remedy.
The authors would like to thank law students Aashna Rao and Camelia Metwally for their research support for this article.