No, Increased Remittances And Amnesty Will Not Stop Mass Illegal Immigration
The pro-mass-migration, pro-amnesty lobby will enthusiastically employ any argument – no matter how weak or baseless – to justify its agenda. A case in point is Jean Guerrero’s recent column in The Los Angeles Times, in which she asserts that granting illegal aliens amnesty while increasing remittances, and making it easier to send them, will somehow “stop immigration.” Ms. Guerrero’s article is riddled with numerous other problems as well and serves as a window into the flawed assumptions and logic of the radical pro-mass-migration crowd.
The author pitches more remittances – coupled with a “pathway to citizenship” (amnesty) – as a solution far superior to U.S. and international investments in Latin America, which she condemns as the “primary drivers of displacement for Black and Indigenous people — concentrating wealth among local elites and foreign investors.” Her reasoning is that illegal aliens from the Northern Triangle send home so much money in remittances that any promised investments pale in comparison: “the Biden administration pledged $4 billion over four years to Central America. Compare that with $11.4 billion in remittances received just by Guatemalans in 2020 alone. That’s equivalent to 15% of Guatemala’s GDP.”
Although that may be true, it fails to ask whether being dependent on remittances and exporting illegal migrant laborers is an optimal economic development solution to get a country out of poverty and foreign dependency. In fact, by stimulating consumption, it may actually perpetuate those problems in the long run while simultaneously reducing popular pressure on bad governments that keep their countries mired in corruption, crime, and poverty.
While the remittance amounts sent to Central America cited by Ms. Guerrero are indeed substantial, it also translates into large sums of money leaving the U.S. economy. A 2019 FAIR study, which calculated that the U.S. loses $150 billion in remittances each year, explained that “[r]ather than being used to purchase goods and services in the United States, the majority of remittance monies go directly into the pockets of foreign businesses” or governments. As such, it obviously “no longer generates any tax revenue that can be used to pay for public services” here in the U.S. Sadly, the American side of the equation is often left out in discussions of remittances.
Similarly, when The Los Angeles Times columnist touts amnesty, arguing that it “would dramatically boost immigrant earnings, while allowing them to visit loved ones south of the border — lessening the pressure for family reunification in the U.S.,” she forgets that these boosted earnings would come at the expense of native-born American workers and immigrants who migrated the right way. From the history of the misguided 1986 amnesty, we know that mass amnesty actually encourages more illegal immigration given that the illegal alien population has grown at least fivefold between the late 1980s and now. And while remittances may encourage some foreign nationals to remain home, they certainly also convince many to attempt to enter the U.S. illegally to get their own piece of the action. In 2021, for instance, remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean region increased by 25 percent from the previous year, reaching $131 billion (and they are estimated to grow by 9 percent this year), yet illegal migration into the U.S. continues to skyrocket.
Ms. Guerrero makes one valid point, however. She quotes with approval one Honduran activist asking “[w]hy does nobody ever talk about the right we have to stay [in our home country]?” In fact, FAIR has been emphasizing for decades that a long-term solution to poverty throughout the world is not mass migration but policies in migrant-exporting nations that would make the locals want to remain in their homelands. However, the “right to stay” is undermined by the combination of open borders, amnesty, and dependence on remittances embraced by Ms. Guerrero and many other advocates of mass migration.