Mexico’s Solution

An ambitious plan is needed to tackle the root of the problem of the migrant caravan headed for the U.S.

The clashes last Sunday between U.S. police and hundreds of members of the migrant caravan hoping to enter the country from Tijuana are a clear indication of the serious humanitarian, and likely political, crisis looming at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

There has been no coordinated political response in the several months since it became known that the breaking-point reached over insecurity and poverty in various countries had caused thousands of people to set out on foot from Central America for the United States in search of a life-saving escape. Thousands of men and women—most of them young people—have been walking for weeks. And thousands continue to set out even now in order to flee a reality where practically the only viable solution is to join violent gangs, which, alongside poverty, corruption and political ineffectiveness, are destroying their countries’ institutions.

Some 7,000 already find themselves at the U.S. border on the outskirts of the Mexican city of Tijuana, but their numbers are expected to rise as they are joined by the sea of people who form part of this movement. Remaining true to the usual style of his administration so far, Donald Trump has reacted by issuing threats on social media—including deploying the army to the border—followed by the announcement of utterly impractical measures which would make the general situation even worse, such as the complete closure of the border. The mass attempt on Sunday to enter the country was nothing more than a skirmish, and Trump would do well to listen to his own immigration services and have ready a management plan that goes beyond firing tear gas.

However, in addition to managing the immediate situation, the root of the problem must be tackled as soon as possible, not only in order to resolve this extraordinary immigration crisis, but also, and especially, to prevent the social collapse of a key region of the American continent. In this sense, the proposal made by Marcelo Ebrard, who, under the direction of the new Mexican administration, will become Mexico’s secretary of state in a few days, is absolutely correct.

The new administration, headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador who is to take office on Saturday, will propose that the U.S. and Canada develop an ambitious plan aimed at investing in and reconstructing the migrants’ countries of origin. The Mexican government’s proposal will be presented at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration on Dec. 10 and 11. The project deserves international support, including that of Spain, which has witnessed how aid aimed at development is more effective than police efforts to contain immigration at the border.

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