It is quite understandable for any person or family to look for a destination that offers them better living standards and greater personal security. However, this need does not justify violating the laws. Today, it is known that more than a million immigrants obtain a legal entry visa to the United States every year and there are several million on waiting lists that respect immigration laws. The following analysis search for its causes.
Corruption, Poor Governance, and their Effects on Migration in Central America
Institutional neglect and corruption in Central America
On February 2, the Biden Administration announced an Executive Order to address the root causes of migration from Latin America. The Executive Order directed a small collective of officials to develop a plan “to address the root causes of migration, including by (A) combating corruption, strengthening democratic governance, and advancing the rule of law; (B) promoting respect for human rights, labor rights, and a free press; (C) countering and preventing violence, extortion, and other crimes perpetrated by criminal gangs, trafficking networks, and other organized criminal organizations; (D) combating sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence; and (E) addressing economic insecurity and inequality.”
While all these actions are laudable as part of U.S. foreign policy, the Executive Order did not make clear how corruption and governance issues are related to migration. Nor have subsequent actions by the Administration. The links were taken as obvious, or taken for granted. Yet the relationship between poor governance, corruption and migration is complex and multiple factors exist, sometimes intensifying each other and at other times neutralizing each other.
Latin America has suffered from decades of neglect in building strong institutions and pervasive poor governance, including the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Throughout the region, political systems that benefit political and economic elites are entrenched, and corrupt governance is pervasive. One consequence is that the state is unable or unwilling to provide basic services to the citizenry — education, public safety, response to natural disasters, consistent legal institutions, and core public-health services like universal vaccination. A second consequence is that individuals have very low institutional trust in government, even when they do not report personal experience with corruption. Yet services do exist in these countries that approximate services delivered in the Global North in quality—but only available to local elites.
This situation has dependable outcomes. People believe, correctly, that they are getting the short end of the stick. People believe that things are not going to change. For many, then, the solution is migration. Migration becomes the way to change one’s life, to rise up socially, gain access to needed services, enable a better life for one’s children, or buy the goods that individuals dream of owning.
Corruption and Migration
Several relationships between corruption and migration are clear in Latin America, although not all of these are analogous in relationship or equivalent in strength ...