Vice President Harris is pushing Americans to support big money for three Central American countries – as a solution to the burgeoning border crisis. As a former Assistant Secretary of State, who managed two billion dollars instability programs globally under Colin Powell, allow me to say – the wrong answer. See, e.g., https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kamala-harris-immediate-relief-northern-triangle-mexican-president.
Does America benefit from working with foreign governments around the world to stabilize, stop public corruption, restore the rule of law, and create economic opportunities? Yes, of course. We have been doing that for 75 years. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_foreign_aid.
We do so on the premise that a safer, more democratic, self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-policing, and thus stable world is better for all. We do so with the idea of intervening to gradually solve – and then prevent – costly crisis. We do so on the notion that “teaching a man to fish is better than plying him with fish.”
Before explaining why Harris’ idea of cash for Central America is wrong and offers no solution to the border crisis – is a deflection, allow me to say clearly, foreign aid can be critical. US aid rebuilt the economies of Europe and the Far East after WWII, South Korea after the Korean War. US aid to South America – especially Peru and Colombia – restored the rule of law when drug-funded terrorists seemed unstoppable. US foreign aid – conditioned on concrete results – has helped stabilize 90 countries. See, e.g., https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/FY-2020-CEN-Strategy-Progress.pdf; https://www.state.gov/u-s-strategy-for-central-america/; https://www.state.gov/bureaus-offices/under-secretary-for-civilian-security-democracy-and-human-rights/bureau-of-international-narcotics-and-law-enforcement-affairs/; https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/us-foreign-aid-by-country.
But foreign aid is neither a panacea – some easy answer to endemic foreign instability, corruption, poverty, crime, terrorism, or cultural and legal deficits – nor is it a substantive response to the US-Mexico border crisis.
First, while caravans of illegal aliens push north from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, the answer is not cash to these countries. The US has long pushed major foreign aid to these countries, including under the Trump Administration. That aid has helped stabilize these countries, even attract some foreign capital, in turn creating jobs. But structural, cultural, physical, and political barriers to rapid progress exist in these countries; planeloads of cash will not solve them.
Moreover, cash to those in power – since aid is government to government, and even non-government organizations who benefit operate under host country authority – often ends up lining the pockets of corrupt leaders.
Additionally, “absorption” is a major issue. The faster and larger the amount of money that arrives, the less likely a lasting impact, accountability, or return on investment by American taxpayers. The process of making foreign aid pay dividends to US taxpayers – in legal and economic stability, reduced need for military intervention, and increased trade – is generational, not done in months.
In short, Harris either fundamentally misunderstands how foreign aid works, what we have been doing around the world, and how wasteful cash dumps are – or she is intentionally misrepresenting what can be done, aiming to distract.
The Biden-Harris team has created the conditions that are producing a flood into the US of illegal aliens. The Central American countries are not creating the new conditions, as they have long labored under their structural problems.
No, this illegal alien flood is a result of signaling “go” to human traffickers, who often abuse the humans they are illegally trafficking. It reflects Biden-Harris’ disdain for Trump, who had policies in place that worked.
This flood is the result of stopping wall construction, ending treaties with these countries, ending a “hold until adjudication” treaty with Mexico for Central American asylum seekers, halting deportation, restarting the indefensible “catch and release” program – releasing illegals into the US with distant or non-existent court dates, offering uncapped housing to tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors – who are then relocated to the Heartland, and making clear our borders are open, laws do not matter, sanctuary cities protected, US citizens to suffer.
So, what is the solution to the border crisis?
Point One: Return to the effective deterrent policies put in place by Trump – as they worked.
Point Two: Send a clear signal that rule of law matters here, just as we teach it does around the world.
Point Three: Do not imagine cash dumps to governments – via USAID or State – will suddenly reverse endemic problems or that we have not been working to improve stability, economies, trade, the rule of law for decades.
Point Four: Note many illegally crossing the border are not from these countries.
Point Five: Return to basics. The core drivers are ill-conceived Biden policies, from open borders and sanctuary cities to demeaning police, federal laws, and law enforcement, promoting drug legalization and giving away money to illegal aliens, to banning the use of the word.
In short, charity starts at home – and so does deterrence. Not to see this is willful blindness. Not to address the border crisis from within is to deflect from a major error of the Biden Administration, one undermining rule of law here. And to imagine planeloads of cash as the solution is naïve at best, deceptive at worst in short – Harris id dead wrong. Deflection is not a solution to the border crisis.
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