I've been following the hand-wringing over the "immigration problem" amongst many of late. And I can recognize there is a problem of sorts. Truly, we can't accept the whole of the world in to the US, at least, I don’t think we can.
At the same time, especially as it relates to Central America, it seems to me we must own up to our part of the problem. We have pushed “Free” Trade Agreements with our neighbors to their detriment.
Yes, I know they are free nations that could have refused to sign on to any agreements we’ve offered, but we must also keep in mind that the playing ground is not level. According to a couple of sources I found, illegal immigration has increased 60-80% since NAFTA.
You see, most of our Latin American neighbors are not exactly in bargaining positions. They have little choice but to accept what treaties the US offers. And, if they don't, they will be perceived to be an upstart nation like Bolivia, Cuba or Venezuela that the US perceives as a threat. Because of their real life experience with US invasions, overthrows, coups and wars in Latin America, they know that there is a clear and present danger from the US if they don't go along with our wishes.
As I thought about this, I recalled the story from the prophet, Nathan. You may remember Nathan in the Bible, who confronted King David after David had treacherously killed a faithful leader in his army so that David might take his wife, Bathsheba – adding her to his vast harem. Nathan approached the haughty and mighty king, saying:
Judge this case for me! In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor.
The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers.
But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him.
Now, the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man's ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor.
What shall we do with the rich man in this story?
In our story?
What is one to do with a bully that imposes their own (perceived) best interests on others, regardless if it's in the others' best interest?
What are you to do if you are a farmer and barely making a living selling their goods at the market, when FTA's come in and US agribusinesses can sell their produce at 1/2 the price that you can afford to sell them? Sneak illegally over to the US so that you might feed your family?
I ask, as Nathan asked, what shall we do with this rich, powerful and arrogant person?
Yes, we could say to Nathan, "Well, that poor guy can just go get another lamb!" but to say that would be missing the point of the story indeed and expose on which side we have cast our allegiance.