False Narrative Promotes Economic Migration

CAPS — The flow of migrants from Central America continues, and the attitude of the Obama Administration is to let them come and stay. The rationale is that most are fleeing violence which poses a threat to their safety, so therefore they should qualify for permanent residence, either as refugees or asylees. Under present law, they cannot remain simply because they seek better economic opportunities.

But from the beginning of this influx, some commentators have questioned the narrative that violence is its main cause. Two years ago Guatemala’s ambassador to the United States, Julio Ligorria, stated that crime was not the main reason his countrymen were leaving. He noted that most of the people departing were from the northern part of Guatemala, rather than the east where crime has been much more of a problem. He said that most of migrants were seeking economic advancement, or were young people seeking to reunite with their families in the U.S.

Further confirmation that violence is not primarily driving the migration came recently from a report by ERIC-SJ, a Jesuit-run research and social action center in Honduras. The survey of Hondurans with relatives who had migrated found that 77.6 percent of the migrants left for economic reasons. Only 16.9 cited violence as the reason for their departure.

But many immigration advocates will not let such findings disturb their narrative. Some evidently are even willing to use fraud to advance it. The watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealing that one advocacy group counseled migrants who arrived illegally to claim falsely that they had “a credible fear” of danger in their home countries in order to obtain asylum. More worrisome, the documents also revealed that DHS was aware of the deception but allowed the claimants to stay anyway.

In recent years, asylum claims at the border have gone up sharply, and the word of this strategy seems to be getting around among illegal aliens. Jan Ting, a law professor and former immigration official, testified before Congress that “[M]any illegal border crossers don’t run from the Border Patrol, but instead seek them out to make asylum claims.” Currently, there is a backlog of 450,000 “credible fear” cases pending before federal immigration courts.

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