Trump’s immigration policies are counterproductive

Defunding programs proven to stem the flow worsens the humanitarian crisis at the southern border

The author, a Chico resident, is a Chico State alum and former small-business owner.

Chennai, India, population 9 million, is running out of water. Meanwhile, in Africa, climate change and soil degradation are shrinking the amount of usable land while population growth is exacerbating the crises. When there is no water to drink, or food to eat, people leave. These are but two occurrences in which severe environmental disruption is a driving force for “climate migration.”

The humanitarian crisis at our southern border is heavily influenced by the severe weather disruption devastating the agriculture production in the Northern Triangle countries—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. An unstable cycle of severe drought, followed by tumultuous rainfall in the region, has decimated agriculture, creating an acute food shortage. More people are fleeing to the southern border of the United States because of hunger than over fears of crime and gang violence. “This is not as complicated as it seems,” said David Beasley, executive director for the World Food Program. “If you want to solve the migration problem, solve the food security problem.”

In 2015, the Obama administration established financial aid programs designed to meet the most pressing need in each country’s economic development. Financial aid extended to Guatemala and Honduras was for increased food security and violence prevention. Aid to El Salvador helped improve governance and reduce gang violence; the number of its migrants to the U.S. fell by 56 percent.

In April, the Trump administration’s response was to totally defund Obama’s Central America aid programs. Congress, in a moment of infrequent wisdom, has restored over half the funds.

Additionally, last summer, Trump cut funding for a program run in conjunction with the U.N. refugee agency that intended to screen potential asylum-seekers in their home countries—an effort to prevent the sort of influx happening at the U.S.’s southern border the past few months.

Desperate times beget desperate actions. President Trump doesn’t understand that most refugees would not seek asylum in the United States if survival security was a reality in their home country. To understand that would require using common sense, something in short supply in Trump’s ignorant mind.