The U.S. immigration crisis has reached a new boiling point. Apprehensions by federal agents of people crossing the U.S. Southern border is at a near-record high. For the past year, tens of thousands of asylum seekers have appeared in cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver, many of them dispatched northward in buses by the governors of Texas and Florida. The newcomers have overwhelmed local governments as municipal leaders frantically try to provide them emergency shelter, food and other basic services, while the news media constantly note the surprising number of destitute and displaced Venezuelans among them. That emergency assistance, however, has sparked a growing backlash from the general public, particularly among Americans who advocate clamping down on immigration, but also among some low-income Black and Latino residents in those cities whose communities have suffered years of neglect by the same local governments. Many of those residents have voiced increasing alarm about the sudden diversion of scarce tax funds for the siting of temporary migrant shelters in their neighborhoods.
But few media accounts have examined the way U.S. foreign policy toward specific Latin American countries has directly fueled the current crisis. Nor have those narratives acknowledged the long history of U.S. intervention and wealth extraction in the region, which, together with decades of neglect of Latin America’s social needs by both Democratic and Republican administrations in Washington, has led to more than six decades of massive human migration from that region to the U.S.
This report briefly outlines the evidence that U.S. economic warfare against three specific countries – Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua – is a significant cause of the latest migration surge. It argues, furthermore, that progressive U.S. leaders and the general public should advocate for a more humane and responsible foreign policy – one that could not only dramatically reduce migration from the region but also address the mushrooming labor shortage within the U.S.
Senior Research Fellow, UIC Great Cities Institute; and Co-Host of Democracy Now.