American Interventionism and Immigration

By Antonio Caceres, Staff Writer

In the past few years, the United States has experienced a massive increase in Central American migration. Some families seek asylum, and even large caravans that travel together are hoping to find safety in US land. This rise in asylum claims and undocumented immigrants in the United States has become a political scare tactic often used on the political right. However, talk of gang violence and changing racial demographics do not reveal the underlying fact that many migrants are fleeing nations that have been destabilized by American interventionism.


Many do not realize or stop to consider the damage the US has done in the name of anti-communism. The Red Scare of the fifties and sixties not only affected our country but every nation in our proximity. The Vietnam War is a well-known failure of American foreign policy that began in the name of curbing leftism. It was widely feared that a “domino effect” would result in one nation adopting communism after another. This fear was particularly felt in regards to Latin American countries whose populations had experienced periods of instability and authoritarianism for decades.


The Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador were all victims of American interventionism due to these concerns. After Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz won a democratic election on a platform of land redistribution, he was overthrown in a US-backed military coup in 1954. The ensuing dictatorship that killed thousands of Guatemalans ruined the national economy while American businesses continued to reap the benefits of their plantations in the region. El Salvador was similarly devastated when, during its civil war in the 1980s, President Reagan helped fund the military government against left-wing guerrilla groups. The conflict left thousands dead and displaced countless families. After Honduras’ leftist president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in 2009, the Obama administration was silent and even actively campaigned against Zelaya’s return to power.


These destructive actions taken by successive US leaders have left Central America a region filled with high crime rates and rampant corruption. American deportations of Salvadoran immigrants even spread the gang MS-13 to El Salvador, not the other way around. Our immigration problem must handle migrants humanely and avoid the separation of migrant children from their families but rather an open door for those in need and a path to citizenship for those already living in the United States. Although, if we do not recognize our own causes in these crises, we will continue this cycle of foreign destabilization and increased migration leaving everyone around the world less safe.