Asylum seekers at U.S. border. (AP)

Asylum seekers at U.S. border. (AP)


To Stabilize Central America, the U.S. Must Craft Better Incentives for Trade

By Steve Liston

Recognition of Central America as part of a larger North American economic zone is necessary to reduce the factors driving migration, writes AS/COA's Steve Liston in The Hill

Central America is not a place most Americans or U.S. policymakers spend a lot of time thinking about, even though the region, time and again, has forced itself onto our radar screen. The past year was one of those times, as we experienced the effects of instability in Central America on our own well-being. The consequences of the pandemic, political chaos, and a lack of economic opportunity have driven a mass exodus from the region. As a result, the U.S. has received a record number of migrants and the highest number of illegal border crossings in history, creating a formidable challenge at our southern border.

The causes of the current crisis are diverse and longstanding, and there is no simple solution. Better border security, aid to democratic institutions, fighting organized crime throughout the region, and sanctioning corrupt officials are all part of the answer and figure prominently in U.S. government efforts. However, U.S. policy still falls short in one key area: initiatives to foster economic prosperity through regional trade and job growth.

Among the many factors driving Central American migration to the U.S., economic incentives combine a unique set of push-and-pull elements. People are pushed to migrate by the lack of opportunities at home, and simultaneously are pulled by the promise of a dynamic U.S. economy…

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