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  • By October 2018,

  • Juan Carlos Rivera could no longer afford

  • to live in his home in Copan, Honduras.

  • As the "Dallas Morning News" reported,

  • a gang was taking 10 percent of his earnings from his barber shop.

  • His wife was assaulted going to her pre-K teaching job.

  • And they were concerned about the safety of their young daughter.

  • What could they do?

  • Run away?

  • Seek asylum in another country?

  • They didn't want to do that.

  • They just wanted to live in their country safely.

  • But their options were limited.

  • So that month,

  • Juan Carlos moved his family to a safer location

  • while he joined a group of migrants on the long and perilous journey

  • from Central America

  • to a job a family member said was open for him in the United States.

  • By now we're all familiar with what awaited them

  • at the US-Mexico border.

  • The harsher and harsher penalties doled out to those crossing there.

  • The criminal prosecutions for crossing illegally.

  • The inhumane detention.

  • And most terribly, separation of families.

  • I'm here to tell you that not only is this treatment wrong,

  • it's unnecessary.

  • This belief that the only way to maintain order

  • is with inhumane means

  • is inaccurate.

  • And in fact, the opposite is true.

  • Only a humane system will create order at the border.

  • When safe, orderly, legal travel to the United States is available,

  • very few people choose travel that is unsafe,

  • disorderly or illegal.

  • Now, I appreciate the idea

  • that legal immigration could just resolve the border crisis

  • might sound a bit fanciful.

  • But here is the good news:

  • We have done this before.

  • I've been working on immigration for years

  • at the Cato Institute

  • and other think tanks in Washington DC

  • and as the senior policy adviser for a republican member of Congress,

  • negotiating bipartisan immigration reform.

  • And I've seen firsthand

  • how America has implemented a system of humane order at the border

  • for Mexico.

  • It's called a guest worker program.

  • And here's the even better news.

  • We can replicate this success for Central America.

  • Of course, some people

  • will still need to seek asylum at the border.

  • But to understand how successful

  • this could be for immigrants like Juan Carlos,

  • understand that until recently,

  • nearly every immigrant arrested by Border Patrol was Mexican.

  • In 1986,

  • each Border Patrol agent arrested 510 Mexicans.

  • Well over one per day.

  • By 2019, this number was just eight.

  • That's one every 43 days.

  • It is a 98 percent reduction.

  • So where have all the Mexicans gone?

  • The most significant change

  • is that the US began issuing

  • hundreds of thousands of guest worker visas to Mexicans,

  • so that they can come legally.

  • José Vásquez Cabrera was among the first Mexican guest workers

  • to take advantage of this visa expansion.

  • He told "The New York Times" that before his visa

  • he'd made terrifying illegal border crossings,

  • braving near deadly heat and the treachery of the landscape.

  • One time, a snake killed a member of his group.

  • Thousands of other Mexicans also didn't make it,

  • dying of dehydration in the deserts or drowning in the Rio Grande.

  • Millions more were chased down and arrested.

  • Guest worker visas have nearly ended this inhumane chaos.

  • Assquez Cabrera put it,

  • "I no longer have to risk my life

  • to support my family.

  • And when I'm here, I don't have to live in hiding."

  • Guest worker visas actually reduced the number of illegal crossings

  • more than the number of visas issued.

  • Jose Bacilio, another Mexican guest worker, explained why

  • to the "Washington Post" in April.

  • He said, even though he hadn't received a visa this year,

  • he wouldn't risk all of his future chances

  • by crossing illegally.

  • This likely helps explain why

  • from 1996 to 2019

  • for every guest worker admitted legally from Mexico,

  • there was a decline in two arrests of Mexicans crossing illegally.

  • Now, it's true,

  • Mexican guest workers do some really tough jobs.

  • Picking fruit, cleaning crabs,

  • landscaping in a 100-degree heat.

  • And some critics maintain that guest worker visas

  • are not actually humane

  • and that the workers are just abused slaves.

  • Butsquez Cabrera thought a guest worker visa was liberating.

  • Not enslavement.

  • And he, like nearly all other guest workers,

  • chose the legal path over the illegal one, repeatedly.

  • The expansion of guest worker visas to Mexicans

  • has been among the most significant humane changes

  • in US immigration policy ever.

  • And that humane change

  • imposed order on chaos.

  • So where does this leave Central Americans,

  • like Juan Carlos?

  • Well, Central Americans received

  • just three percent of the guest worker visas issued in 2019,

  • even as their share of border arrests has risen to 74 percent.

  • The US issued just one guest worker visa to a Central American

  • for every 78 who crossed the border illegally in 2019.

  • So if they can't get their papers at home,

  • many take their chances,

  • coming up through Mexico to claim asylum at the border

  • or cross illegally,

  • even if, like Juan Carlos, they prefer to come to work.

  • The US can do better.

  • It needs to create new guest worker visas

  • specifically for Central Americans.

  • This would create an incentive for US businesses

  • to seek out and hire Central Americans,

  • paying for their flights to the United States,

  • and diverting them from the illegal, dangerous trek north.

  • Central Americans could build flourishing lives at home,

  • without the need to seek asylum at the border

  • or cross illegally,

  • freeing up an overwhelmed system.

  • Some people might say

  • that letting the workers go back and forth

  • will never work in Central America

  • where violence is so high.

  • But again, it worked in Mexico,

  • even as Mexico's murder rate more than tripled over the last decade,

  • to a level higher than much of Central America.

  • And it would work for Juan Carlos,

  • who said, despite the threats

  • he only wants to live in the United States temporarily,

  • to make enough money

  • to sustain his family in their new home.

  • He even suggested that a guest worker program

  • would be one of the best things to help Hondurans like him.

  • Cintia, a 29-year-old single mother of three from Honduras,

  • seems to agree.

  • She told the "Wall Street Journal" that she came for a job

  • to support her kids and her mom.

  • Surveys of Central Americans traveling through Mexico,

  • by the College of the Northern Border in Mexico,

  • confirm that Juan and Cintia are the norm.

  • Most, not all, but most do come for jobs,

  • even if, like the Riveras,

  • they may also face some real threats at home.

  • How much would a low-wage job help

  • a Honduran, like Juan or Cintia?

  • Hondurans like them make as much

  • in one month in the United States

  • as they do in an entire year working in Honduras.

  • A few years' work in the United States

  • can propel a Central American into its upper middle class

  • where safety is easier to come by.

  • What Central Americans lack is not the desire to work.

  • Not the desire to contribute to the US economy,

  • to contribute to the lives of Americans.

  • What Central Americans lack is a legal alternative to asylum.

  • To be able to do so legally.

  • Of course, a new guest worker program

  • will not resolve 100 percent of this complex phenomenon.

  • Many asylum seekers will still need to seek safety

  • at the US border.

  • But with the flows reduced,

  • we can more easily work out ways to deal with them humanely.

  • But ultimately,

  • no single policy has proven to do more

  • to create an immigration system that is both humane

  • and orderly

  • than to let the workers come legally.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

By October 2018,

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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