tv Discussion on Central American Security and Migration CSPAN December 8, 2018 6:53am-8:01am EST
the wars that were really transformative with anticorruption and pretty much the same as anything to spend there. is incredibly demoralizing the you are going to have a different future than you have, and different push/pool factors. rarely is there one thing that drives people to migrate but we have to understand the intersection of crime and violence on economic opportunity and how it is looked at by the local population. salvadorans talk about the situation in the country, crime and violence as the reason they can't have economic opportunity, they are well
aware of this cost prohibitive, we hear about people saying my company was shut down because they couldn't bear the cost burden of security, delivery drivers when you go in and out of the neighborhood, someone needs access to that neighborhood, it is a noneconomic drain on the economy so you can't think about this as purely violent or economic. there is an intersection of issues and honduras, when you talk to this, we have a lot to have economic opportunity. all three of these countries are experiencing a demographic bonus, and age that should be employed and nowhere for them to work. a lot of young unemployed men, that really is the program for the games they have. you don't have the threat of one without drawing on another.
>> thanks for raising the demographic point. >> what we are going to hear from me today or my views that are not reflective of the department of defense or the perry center, the other caveat is i no longer manage institutional programs, managing the governance effort that we do at the center. thank you for this opportunity. >> and retroactively say the department of usda, thank you. >> we are here on our own. after the conference was over, that is one of the efforts we had.
as the ultimate root cause to answer your questions, i thought nicely rounded up the root causes of migration and prosperity and the conversation, we talked about revenue collection, facilitating trade at the border and so forth. this speaks to lack of state capacity and state governance. these states are doing what the state intends to do and there's no social contract, has there ever been a social contract in these countries? the many conversations i have attended when we talk about governance, i end up hearing them, institutional reform, rule of law.
when talking about institutional reform, looking at corruption and institutional reform becomes a discussion of reforming the judiciary, all of that is necessary but insufficient and the way i talk about it, this reflects an acknowledgment we are dealing with it after the fact. and to prosecute them a little better. we absolutely need that. and when we change governance to talk about how to reduce the space where governments can occur in the first place, the great work, may not have to go out of business in guatemala because every president in jail there's another that may come out. for every vice president that is taking funds from the
administration. another decorative entry. how do we work with these governments at helping them reform those architectures. those architectures are reformed internally to reduce the corruption that occurs in the first place. and the highest levels of government, and a lot of positive outcomes on the ground to elevate and look at the state capacity and how to develop programs. and programs to work on that. >> i was looking at twitter the other day. it was a conversation that
caught my attention just as it was, the caravan people that has a political consciousness in the home countries. in the conversation i had with migration activists early on, the largest caravan starting to form in honduras and between our countries there are two ways to protest, one in the streets and the other by leaving. the point was when regular avenues to protest, to address the government, to make sure it is blocked. we have seen that in some ways another thing we haven't done
enough job explaining is the caravan members marching with flags for example there is a political element, they do believe they are protesting their conditions by leaving and we have seen that when you come across the guatemala mexico border, the flags or patriotic slogans, public debate has not been able to comprehend well. what i want you to do is specifically look at governments in central america now, and we have a fairly assessment of the relationships of what we're doing, darker forces operating over the expulsion.
as well as recent events having to do with the president of hunter s and the family. i want to ask each of you to look at if you wish specific government, central america, what are you concerned about. and democratic governance and the kinds of abilities of governments to respond to citizens needs and keep people believing or give them a sense of hope to stay home. >> that is really a key issue. there are some good elements, honduras, reforming it and producing something in the long run but the picture is
troubling, the presidential election with highly questioned, not saying there was fraud, there was post-electoral violence. and people protested these results and somewhere between 22, and 36 of the numbers very, people were not killed in his public protest and no prosecution of them. i think whether that kind of violence affects you directly or more indirectly, people begin to feel there is no fairness in our society, no justice. hunter and used to tell me, laws are for poor people. they are not applied to the elite of the country. so people can -- begin to feel despair in leaving. we come to term with those
issues of fairness, justice, rule of law. it will impact people's outlook. it will impact the country's economic development. it will impact virtually every aspect of society. we have another troubling situation in guatemala not just around the fight between the president and the commissioner but the threats against the courts. the fact that the guatemalan government felt it could take donated military -- from the united states and circled the courts, circle the us embassy. now we find out more trucks were sent by the us to guatemalan government and it is deeply disturbing. what kind of message? is there a consensus?
i would hope there would be, between republicans and democrats, that governance, rule of law, anticorruption should be the centerpiece? i think there was but i'm beginning to have my doubts and that is worrisome. >> what do you see in central america right now? >> i will take a step back, these particular governments, talk about the form of governance in pretty young democracies and ever since they transitioned to democracy there is not been strong support for democratic rule and there has not been a really great example sent by any of the governments since adopting democracy to show the government is there to serve the needs of the people.
if you get the barometer of support for democratic governance versus other forms of governance the court is very low and exceptionally low in honduras. i think of course you can always find entities to work with in a specific government that are trying really hard to go the right direction and you will have on a smaller scale very promising success but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the larger apparatus of these institutions where you might work with one community and get a really good impact on something like domestic violence issues by setting up an all-female run police station and that might have an impact on the local community but it is pooling against the tide. they don't have strong institutions. they are young democracies and there is low public support for democratic governance, there's
a preference for over policing, a preference for in some places hard handed tactics and there is an exasperation in general and you have to see the large number of people against the governments they have. you can try to parse out who to work with but you can change the overall political culture in these countries and the way they view their roles, how police view their role in civilian security because it is going to be short-term gains over a long-term problem that is much broader. >> i will build on what she is talking about. the commissioner talked about several problems at the local
level with mayors or embedded police units and those are great accomplishments but how do we take those accomplishments and expand them and elevate them through the government and that is our biggest challenge. the situation, the panorama in the region is problematic, talking about elections in honduras and how those came to be. the election of jimmy moore alice in quarter mueller was supposed to usher in a new era and now you see where we stand between him and his brother, his son, being accused, he himself will be under investigation. to channel the late president bush, there is some light that i will talk about. it is what i call the revolution, the silent revolution. those are not my words. the silent revolution without
bloodshed that occurred in guatemala when people did take to the streets and the people were able to affect change and at the time the attorney general down there and the woman who said it was the people that literally created the physical space allowing her to enter, to prosecute that case and the former president in jail. that issue needs to be much better understood and we need to see how to leverage that activity and work with civil society in some of these countries because that might be the best bet we have. understanding again the commissioner talked about local partners, state reform, and high-level local actors and it becomes problematic.
>> if we were sitting here four or five years ago we will be talking about gang violence, the region with the world's highest murder rates. those murder rates have come down. ironically we have had some success helping these countries reform police and security systems. those efforts have had real results and yet here we are now with another migration crisis as the administration calls it. going back to the caravan. the caravan has become a rorschach test for the politics of immigration. we know how the president feels about it. i wanted to ask each of you, when you saw that sea of people
on the highway coming to the united states and listen to the things they said about why they were leaving and what they expected to find when they got to the border, talk a little bit about the caravan crystallized and symbolized for each of you watching this region. do you expect something like this and do you think this is the last time you think we will see a major attempt by this? what is your assessment of what it symbolized and where you think things are right now? >> you know, i had contradictory actions on the caravan. on the one hand, i feel it is totally understandable that this would happen, people feeling desperate, and they know the risks of exploitation on the route are high. this is the way to not pay a
smuggler $6000, $7000 or whatever the commissioner said. in some ways it is a problem for themselves. so not unsympathetic to what they were trying to do. at the same time, i recognize, we all recognize, this would solve an immediate problem but not going to guarantee successfully entering the united states. that has been the train wreck if i can use that illustration, because their intentions are good. many of them say we just want to work, decent people, we are not criminals and that is true. those are the two realities that butted heads at that point.
my only issue here is as the commissioner said there is an enormous backlog of processes. it is a 3-year, for your backlog. to me the solution is pretty obvious, increase the capacity to process people. i don't know that a $60 billion wall is the answer to that problem. i think the answer is let's ramp up our process. >> won't that encourage more people to come? >> that is true but that will -- they are coming at record numbers. let's work with mexico to have more humane treatment. you have to deal with this backlog issue. if what he says is true, they are saying there is such a big
backlog, they will let you in, deal with that. that is one element of an overall strategy. that would be the logical thing. >> what did you see in the caravan in this whole episode? what is your take away? >> related to something you said earlier, it does not mean the impact, people living in the region, there's a difference with homicide rates with experience. in 2012, homicide rates by gang members going out. it is one measure of crime and violence but not a complete measure. my first thought when i saw the caravan was caravans are not a new phenomenon. mass migration is not a new
phenomenon. the way we cover it in the press is different. the really specific focus on central american migration is a little different but i can't help but think, we have been talking about this a few years ago we would have been talking about all the central american migrants and how they are coming to the us and they shut that down and then at 7:13 it was about unaccompanied children showing up at the border and that was a tactic used to try to get people to use their services but for me, understanding the reform, how people might try to do something when there's an urgency to migrate and it is a morphing of a phenomenon that is taking place. the other thing is in 2014 when
we saw 68,000 unaccompanied children show up at the border, that was the first time women and children became a financial portion of migration and women and children, more central americans and mexicans were showing up. the phenomenon, we started paying attention to it then but how people travel, if you can't afford a coyote how will you get to the us? it is not surprising to me this spring up in honduras where you have an incredible population who can't afford $9000 to travel to the united states and take into account the impact of social media there is a sense of growing urgency that if i don't join this caravan i will miss the opportunity. this problem will be here but the caravan might not be. you have this normal affect where coyotes -- they have enough people to send them because they are aware they need numbers to make it
beneficially cost sized but a large enough group to get through, for me it wasn't surprising. it was logical if i don't have the money and literally don't have shoes on my kids feet but i see everyone in my neighborhood moving out and everyone heading out, that is my only opportunity. >> a challenge to the smugglers. we will do this for free. i have been relieved to this point there hasn't been an effort to retaliate, what we science san fernando in 2010, they wanted to establish control over those particular roots. what did you see in the caravan? what is your take away? >> multiple public policy failures. on our side in central america
the governance we described, it is heartening to see the new mexican president taking a leadership role in it and we should work with him to address how we operationalize the broad initiatives he is talking about. the issue of messaging i found interesting, bring a kid and you will get in and that is a challenge at the local level through our embassies. what are we telling and how we communicating our policies? i think administration's articulation of how to address this whether it is a board wall or more law-enforcement agents might be a disincentive. it is not the only solution the secretary of homeland security,
john kelly, articulated, that the wall alone is not going to do it but there are multiple public policy failures along the way and when we talk about root causes we are addressing a symptom. how to deal with the problem today. we need to think 5 years, 10 years, 20 years in terms of how to prevent this happening, what are the root causes of migration. we have the issue today and deal with it today and those will be technical measures to address it. as we implement tactical measures we should think about how we make more long-term policy choices and gain them. the caravan, i didn't see this as an invasion. there was a daily invasion back in the day of mexicans crossing the border when high numbers in the early 80s, the cubans invaded to the tune of 100,000 people coming into the country so much so the university of
chicago did a study in miami to find out why salaries didn't meet the influx of labor. don't know what the result of that was. these are not a new phenomenon. they are given a different level of publicity and different narrative attached to them today but we have to think about the problem today, let's think how to prevent this in the future, they are coming from honduras and guatemala or other countries. speech >> there are very few people in the region who think just because you have a kid you will get into the us. they don't think there is a high probability. migration is a minority phenomena and minorities of people who want to migrate because of this. that is one thing. they don't cause migration but facilitate it. they come up with different tactics to drum up business so people are not leaving because someone says bring a kid and
you will get in. the other thing is women and children and older people, substantial proportion of migrant flow our natural result of the migration pie that happens all around the world and we have seen it with korean migration to the us and the philippines, women and children are the ones who come at later stages of migration flows and it is not a coyote tactic and bring your kid and get in, it is a natural process playing out. >> thank you for jumping in with that point. i was going to repeat what alex brought up in terms of tactical approaches, thinking of the president's preferred tactic being a large wall on the border but before we get to
that i want to touch on the new government of mexico and the signs that we have gotten so far of a potential deal. i was in mexico city last week over the thanksgiving break and we were invited to an interview with the secretary of the nation who told us as you have read on the record to say they supported the deal with the trump administration for what they were calling remain in mexico. a new agreement that would compel asylum-seekers who were arriving including the caravan at least in the short term to remain on the mexican side of
the border for their asylum claims to be processed but i want to ask each of you, do you see in this new government in mexico which has won a landslide victory, this figure who seems to have broad ambitions and the turning point in mexican governance do you see a possibility of a partnership with this us administration given what the president said about mexico and the way he views border security, are we being naïve or do you think there is a possibility that the two countries will be able to forge some kind of deal and create a partnership that will lead to positive changes we discussed in central america? >> we talked a little bit about this. i think there is a possibility
of an agreement or understanding. a deal might be a little bit far. knowing some of the people who have been appointed to key jobs on migration really went to recapture for themselves or mexico their traditional view of migration which is that migration is not illegal. they don't want to criminalize migrants. there trying to define a policy based on humanitarian concerns and also provide employment opportunities. they talk about a 1-year work visa. some private sector in mexico stepped up and said we need workers. we would like to work with you. i don't know if that is the us approach to this problem. it is mexico, particularly manwell's government with its own way.
can they reach an understanding? i think they will. i don't think they have an option. i don't know if the western migration policy or border policy or mexico's border policy will near each other, working hand in glove. another good example, the us has been concerned about the guatemalan border and the need to strengthen it and control it. that is not his concern at all. i'm not saying he is right but that's not his concern, that is the vision of government led development in his home state, he is concerned about porous parts of mexico get overlooked and would like to invest heavily in that part and it is tied to economic well-being of the triangle. that is not the trump
administration's approach so they can get an understanding that they will have a deal where they work hand in glove on migration enforcement. i find that hard to believe. >> one of the potential concerns or problems that i would see is if lopez is going to create jobs in southern mexico and invite central americans to work there, will that not create tensions based on where he has been popular or you think there will be sufficient jobs, enough jobs to go around the will that lead to conflict? >> i'm not saying he will be successful, just that this is his vision. i will point out over 1 million guatemalans a year work legally in southern mexico. this is a surprisingly good thing. what he would like to do is invest in southern mexico so
they become engines of growth. right now it is mostly agriculture work and he thinks there is more potential there. it may draw workers from central america but will also benefit mexicans in that part of the region. i'm not saying it is right or wrong but it is a different approach. >> this new government has to make a deal with trump? >> whether a deal is struck, trying to get central americans to stay in mexico might be a hard sell. for multiple reasons, they established communities in the united states that will come a man and help a person get jobs or tell them how to enroll the kids in school or if they are going for economic opportunity or future opportunity for their children, they will not stop in for their kids in the mexican
education system and put their kids in the us public education system which they see as superior. they are going for jobs, their opportunities, mexico has its own poverty issues in the southern portion of mexico and potentially could create tension but it is not seen as an economic draw and trying to escape violence, mexico is having its most violent year on record. it is not considered a safe haven and to be honest mexicans are not particularly nice or kind to central americans. there's a great deal of racism in central america particularly indigenous communities. you could create policies to incentivize people to stay in mexico and they might potentially have a few people deciding to take note of them but to cross the border, delivered family in virginia or north carolina or wisconsin i would rather do that. >> i dislike the predictive
game particularly so early in an administration. 6 days into the administration. what i find impressive was a novel idea of thinking differently about the migration peace. the second file i had when i heard about his proposals was every politician is transaction so the possibility of a deal, possibility versus probability, absolutely. possibility to be seen and using this, to cash in at a later time with the government could we come up with a deal? if we find common objectives, between mexico and us regarding the immigration issue i would say absolutely, the
administration is more than willing to work with other countries as long as the end goal, serving america first and he is willing to make a domestic initiative he has to deal with the domestic situation in his country. the third thing i like about the mexican president's idea goes to national security strategy and talks about shared responsibility. he said we can play a certain role, to me that spoke of that idea of shared responsibility and that concept will resonate with the administration and therefore we would be and should be willing to consider the options of new ideas being put forth. >> on the transactional point we know the president wants a wall.
the democrats are not seating the ground, the president is threatening to shut down the government over this particular issue. we did not hear the commissioner talk about the wall. not sure the words came out of his mouth, but we know that this is something there is support for within dhs. if you talk to border patrol agents along the southern border, i am sure you have too, a lot of support tactically that it is a great asset and i am wondering, do you think that the caravan strengthens the position, what kind of symbol will that send? what do you think broadly of
>> drug come through ports of entry. the vast majority are in the port of entry. >> people use t-shirt cannons to get them up and over but i don't think people realize when they talk about the border wall how much fencing we have a long the us border, how much corrugated metal. and as you saw the shift in the 80s and 90s with the
militarization of the border migrants shifting locations that are much more dangerous and human rights groups saying we are finding more bodies of migrants in the desert, people being pushed into places they wouldn't try to cross. if you're trying to put up a barrier, the coast guard off the gulf coast of texas and off of the southern coast of california, i think the demand and the need and the reason people are leaving will not stop if you put up a physical barrier. the ways they will try to enter the us will become riskier and more costly and more deadly. that will be a long-term consequence. >> it will change the nature of the problem. i am reminded of the bush carry debates and the question for
commentator asked was about immigration and the president answered more border patrol, more agents, work visas, more enforcement along the border. he responded, and this goes to democratic candidates, this was an easy kill and carry says more border patrol, more agents and the border is not very secure which reminded us of 9/11 when it was much more secure. i was face palming before that was the thing. i thought the president or democratic candidate would have come up with a novel solution addressing root causes. back then it was mexican immigration. working with mexico to improve governance and create jobs because we don't want to start being a magnet meaning we are doing well and want to keep doing well as a country.
what we don't want is for that magnet to create the whole factor that draws people out. you work with other countries so they become successful and here we are 14 years later talking law enforcement along the border. the wall or other mechanisms we put up are part of a solution. we need strong borders but that's not enough. we need immigration reform and other programs to work with other countries and governments from which the migration is happening. physical barriers can be breached, hopped over, tunneled under, it is part of the solution but not the only
solution. >> anyone in the audience have a burning question to the panel? >> about nicaragua, it is a different situation than we are talking about but new information is coming out about the specific situation when people are not necessarily living in the country because of economic conditions but the government is pushing them to >> the situation is disappointing. i will not liken it to the situation but that is a problem we saw coming, not just the united states but international community and there were things we should have done before hand.
but because we are not very emergency. and there are many tactical solutions to deal with immediate consequences of that emergency but the question is what next? how will we start addressing the situation that arose in nicaragua that we should be pursuing? and some central american governance to look at this issue. i don't know if that answers your question. >> can you think of another
question? >> i wanted to clarify the statistic chris mentioned. did you say 68,000 children came across the border? >> that was the year 2014 at the outset. in may 2014, that was the peak of the crisis that year. >> in the back? >> my name is martinez with the economic committee of the capital area. a question about private sector development in central america getting into presidential elections. you have new thoughts on how the congress -- how to incorporate the private sector development.
what they found, what they were looking at is remittances and high percentage of gdp, how to formalize those remittances so they don't become money that was spent but going to savings and the savings itself becomes the possibility for credit backed by international organizations to include the private investment corporation. and to provide financial advice on savings, and $250 million annually into the financial sector that then becomes available. the other parties education focusing on entrepreneurship and starting small businesses.
and reducing the informal sector, contributing to growth. and then having a virtuous cycle of positive effects. i don't know if it was meant to address that, and what we can't find, local, legitimate actors than there are others in society who may not be in positions of power but can wield power again as we saw in guatemala. >> a question in the front. >> let me go back to the economic part of the problem. it is clear that for him, the
solution in central america -- willing to put that money into the region in that part of mexico. from the american administration, willing to put money into the region and where was congress. will they be willing to uncover that? >> i asked senior officials how to view the cost benefits particularly of some kind of
arrangement a court requiring asylum-seekers, their view was they would save significant money on enforcement costs and some of this money would be potentially available for some development package to sweeten the deal with mexico but i would be curious. >> i am not doubting they said that but dhs has no capacity. they have a function, role, law enforcement, but they are not going to take their money. >> wouldn't be there money. >> don't know if the question is referring to us assistance for southern mexico or central america. don't think there will be a big aid package in this area.
would be some but that is a prediction. >> we give aid sue central america and stringent requirements for them. i think that is one influx of developed aid that is needed but there needs to be stronger investment in the private sector. the countries need to invest more heavily in human capital and their own education system. if you want the private sector to come in you need human capital to take those jobs and make sure you have a highly educated population and make sure teachers are not on strike all the time and getting that it -- it is a multipronged approach. usaid is only one thing required that can help and it is more on development issues. a lot of it is highly dependent on which country are giving the
aid to. the commissioner mentioned poverty alleviation programs in guatemala and that is a specific problem in that region of guatemala that requires a specific solution and it is needed and you wouldn't want to drawback that aid because people's lives literally depends on it but it is different from trying to get government invested heavily in infrastructure or regional integration in the private sector. all these things lower the cost of business and lower the cost barrier for the private sector of the region. if usaid is given that allows some sway and input on other things the governments are doing. that is the best pay off, we get to have -- to be part of
the conversation for what these governments do for themselves. >> i will jump on that as well. you are asking a predictive question of what we are going to do and the money question. i will echo what kristin said which is we give money already. i don't believe throwing more money at the problem is going to resolve it. the central american strategy started under obama, validated by this administration, close to $3 billion to go along with the alliance for prosperity fund, we're going to put in close to $6 million to work on developing tissues. opec is mobilize $1 billion to work on infrastructure project on energy sector project. the international community from 19832015 invested $50 billion in the region and here we are today. the question isn't just
throwing money at the problem, it is throwing money and executing certain projects, insuring the sustainability of those projects. it is insuring, like kristin mentions, we know where the money is going, we are getting what we expect for the money and we have to think the projects that are being executed whether it is building a bridge or creating roads, those are important, but ensuring there is a state capacity to sustain those efforts once we walk away, that is the ultimate goal, that we coming, help and once we walk away those people wherever the agricultural program was, the local mayor can continue feeding the people or the state can continue maintaining the road or bridge or those schools. we have to think about that. congress is putting a big
emphasis on the issue of measuring, evaluation and monitoring these projects. not just -- i know for dod they are doing this for our development projects for institutional reform, what are we getting for the money? what impact are you having? they are looking for that return on investment, not we built a bridge, but we built a bridge and left behind state capacity to continue collecting tolls, providing maintenance on that bridge and sustaining that investment we made and that is an incredibly positive effort that all our government is struggling with with foreign assistance and foreign aid problems. >> thank you, kristin, eric, great discussion, thank you for being here. >> any additional -- terrific moderation. [applause]
>> thank you for joining us, hope to see you again soon. happy holidays. [inaudible conversations] .. >> also the national review's richard brookhiser recounts the career of supreme court chief justice john marshall, we talk about the life and death of war corps marie colvin all this weekend on c-span2's booktv. visit booktv.org. now we kick off the
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