Aid may help curb illegal immigration

Most illegal immigrants come to the United States for economic opportunity. A few make the journey to escape political repression or crime. In many ways, what they do is entirely understandable — though, of course, immigration laws need to be enforced.

Making their own homelands more prosperous, free and safe would do more to curb illegal immigration to ours than any amount of border security here.

Mexican President-elect Manuel Lopez Obrador is pledging to do just that. In a seven-page letter he sent to President Donald Trump, Lopez Obrador said he hopes to improve Mexico’s economy and security.

Lopez Obrador added that, “in this new atmosphere of progress with well-being, I’m sure we can reach agreements to confront together the migration phenomenon as well as the problem of border security.”

Unfortunately, it appears Mexico is not where many illegal immigrants to the United States originate. Other countries in Central America and some in Asia are contributing increasing numbers to the problem.

Still, Mexico is No. 1. About half the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in our country came from there, it has been estimated. So, if Lopez Obrador can to something to stem the flow, it will be most welcome.

Among Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to build a new border security wall and force Mexico to pay for it. That will never happen, of course. The wall may be constructed, but U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill.

Perhaps the flow of aid should be the other way around.

If Lopez Obrador is serious about his goals — and if he can manage to overcome his own country’s version of “the swamp” — some assistance from the United States would be appropriate.

Our country’s economy takes precedence. But that said, if Trump can do anything to help Mexico keep more of its people at home instead of sneaking across the border into the United States, it might be money well spent. First, of course, U.S. officials need to ensure Lopez Obrador means what he wrote and is not merely repeating empty promises of the past.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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