The open-borders,
pro-mass-migration lobby all too often depicts mass migration – both legal and
even illegal – as an undiluted good. Wealthy receiving nations get more workers
(and cheaper ones!), consumers, and diversity; the poor migrants receive a
major wage increase; and the underdeveloped sending nations get remittances and
a chance to export their impoverished masses. Everyone supposedly wins! And any
potential negative consequences are either glossed over or smugly dismissed as
insignificant or irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. However, as
President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador pointed out, there are indeed important
costs associated with mass migration which impact both the countries to which
the migrants are heading (receiving nations) and those they are leaving
(sending nations).

Mr. Bukele, who has been the leader of the Central American nation since June 2019, shared his thoughts on migration and the situation in his country with Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a March 16 interview.

When asked by Carlson why
so many Salvadorans continue to migrate to the U.S. illegally, Mr. Bukele
replied that “well, it’s obvious, our country has failed to provide two basic
things which are the two main drivers of immigration, which [are]the lack of
economic opportunity and the lack of security.” He added that “most people
don’t want to leave their country: they like their culture, they like their
food, they like their weather, I mean it’s their country, they have their
family members here, their friends (…).” Rather than blaming “capitalism,” U.S.
foreign policy, insufficient foreign aid, or the climate (as many apologists of
mass illegal migration do), El Salvador’s head of state is clear that the root
of the problem lies in bad policies at home (which, he argues, he has been
attempting to fix).

Carlson then asked about
pull factors, in particular the lure of welfare benefits – “if the richest
country in the world says: if you cross over the border, we will give you free
healthcare, free education, and all these benefits, that’s a draw, isn’t it?”
Bukele admitted that this is certainly an “incentive,” adding that mass
migration is a game of pros and cons: “you may have a con that probably you
don’t know the language, the journey is a difficult one, [and]you may die on
the journey, but in the end if they will receive a lot of things then the pros
go up and the cons go down.”

As importantly, the
president of El Salvador emphasized that it is “immoral” and “not profitable”
for a country to push its people to emigrate en masse. A nation must
“provide for [its]people.” Moreover, “if you send your hard-working people,
and your talented people, (…) who want to risk it just to go and work, you want
to keep them here because those would be the drivers of your economy. You don’t
want them there so they could send a remittance, which would be a small portion
of what they would earn and produce. You want them to produce here.”

Mr. Bukele argued that
the “dependence” on illegal migration is bad for both the United States and
Latin American countries. Sadly, he did not elaborate on why it is bad for the
U.S., other than pointing out that the dependence increases illegal migration
levels. The Salvadoran leader was more specific when he explained that a
country being a “net exporter of people,” rather than products or services, is
ultimately “not a good economic formula” and fuels a “vicious cycle.” He
reiterated that “the best thing for both of us [the U.S. and El Salvador]is to
keep our people here and to provide for our people right here in our country,
and that’s what people right here want.”

Those who genuinely
believe that by tolerating mass illegal migration wealthy Western nations are
helping poor countries would do well to consider Mr. Bukele’s common-sense
argument. Fueling the “dependence” of Latin America – and the “Global South” in
general – on the mass export of migrants is in many ways a disservice to the
developing world.


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