The border crisis

BY: Darya Pahlavan

Introduction

With an issue that gets this much air time, we must understand how the past actions of the United States have played a part in creating the current chaos at our Southern border. While the US did not single-handedly undermine these countries, our past actions have had an undeniable domino effect that has to led to the destabilization of the countries in our Southern hemisphere, giving the people little choice but to flee all that is familiar to them and make the dangerous journey to the United States.

Background 

Since the Red Scare, the United States has viewed communism and socialism as an existential threat to Western countries and their economic well-being.  To keep communism as far away from us as possible, the United States government actively tried to thwart any possible inroads that communism tried to make. For example, amid the Cold War in the 1960s, countries like Brazil fell victim to America’s fear of extreme left-wing ideologies. When a democratically elected president of the communist party was elected, the United States was not pleased. The US supported a coup d'état arising to counter the socialist president  João Goulart. The US thought it necessary to intervene to stop the spread of communism in left-wing states of China or Cuba. However, by meddling in their politics, we managed to undermine faith in their system and also threw Brazil into a 20-year rule by a brutal military regime.

More recently, the US tried to intervene in the disputed presidential elections in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro, the incumbent socialist president, ran against Juan Guaido. After voting, both the candidates claimed victory. Both sides held victory speeches. The incumbent president, Madura refused to leave and had the military by his side. The United States wanted Guaido to be found the winner. When Guaido was kicked out of the country, the United States got the Western nations to sanction Venezuela. All Venueselan assets were frozen and all transitions with the United States were stopped. This has led to the complete collapse of the Venesualen economy and Madura is still in power. 

Venezuela felt the repercussions of America’s involvement, as it continued to plunge further into economic collapse. Its main industry is oil and this sector felt the biggest blow from the US sanctions. America pulled out investment, as it was not allowed to partake in trade with Venezuela. Consequently, the oil sector dropped in production from a lack of investment and maintenance. This caused the government to lose its main source of revenue since the government in Venezuela is heavily dependent on the oil industry. 

From this came absolute chaos. Corruption ran wild and mismanagement of the country and economy forced Venezuela further into trouble. According to Share.America.gov, 70 percent of Venezuelans now live in extreme poverty with the average daily income being 72 US cents. Those who could afford to leave did so immediately. Most fled to Spain or the US. For those who couldn’t afford it, they are left to fend for themselves or immigrate to other countries with nothing more than what they can carry. 

Currently

Many of the countries in which the United States has tried to interfere have become more unstable. The US did not account that their political ideals would in turn have the effect of creating extreme poverty and desperation for the people in these countries. When conditions become so dangerous and unstable, the people make the decision to migrate to a more stable and safe country. The obvious choice would be to the United States and Canada, as they are the safest and stablest countries in the Americas. The United States claimed to be helping these countries by intervening, so it only makes sense that these migrants go to the country that was just there to help them. 

The amount of people coming to the US border is increasing dramatically. In July of 2021, the US Border Patrol reported there being 200,000 people at the US-Mexico border. Of these people, the majority come from countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which are all countries the US has intervened in. The US involvement in Venezuela lead to a 135% increase in Venezuelan immigration to the US from 2000 to 2010 according to the US Department of Homeland Security. Thousands of Cubans have come to America illegally by entering states like Florida.

As for the situation once at the border, it does not live up to what these migrants were hoping. Under the past few presidential administrations, families have been separated, detained, and deported at the border. 

With a record number of children unaccompanied coming to the border, the issue of how to deal with them humanely increases in relevancy. Action has been taken to find children sponsors, but there are too many of them for this to make a substantial impact. 

When trying to create a solution to this crisis, it is important to realize that there is not much we can do to change the current situation, but we can change what happens in the future. The border issue should serve as a cautionary tale to the US and other countries of what happens when we intervene in other countries. 

To make a small impact, sites such as savethechildren.org and lirs.org give people to opportunity to donate to those impacted by the border crisis. It is also helpful to send letters to your state representatives to ensure that they see their people find this issue important. Small steps like this can slowly help our situation and ending further US involvement in countries can stop this issue from continuing in the future.