Kids at the Border:  An Economic Perspective

Brian G. Long, Ph.D., C.P.M.

Director, Supply Management Research

Grand Valley State University

Thousands of children are crossing the border and flooding our immigration system.  Those from Mexico are summarily deported, but border crashers from Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and other countries are entitled to a lengthy hearing and appeal prior to deportation.  The statistics clearly show that as many as 95% of these refugees are either allowed to stay or otherwise just “stay.”    Why?  We need to be compassionate, because after all, they are children.

Herein lies the sheer naivety of the truth about the world economic system in which we live.  According to the UN, 21,000 people starve to death EVERY DAY, the majority of which are children.   As of 2012, 74% of the world’s population lives on less than the lowest percentile (1/100) in our country.  Given the option, about 2 billion people or so AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT would be more than happy to board a bus or a plane bound for the United States.  Reality:  The ensuing chaos would be so devastating that most of our own population would literally die of starvation in a matter of weeks.

The second somewhat obvious fact is that the children that are now crossing our borders are NOT the really poor children of these South American countries.  The so-called “coyote” smuggling fees range between $2,000 and $10,000.  Of course, $10,000 would be enough to feed a rural South American family for a DECADE OR TWO.  When it was announced two years ago that we would “generally” no longer deport children, the parents or relatives of these children began “investing” to get their children into the U.S.   It’s a good investment, because 95% of the time children stay.

So what can be done for the starving children of the world? Arbitrarily opening our borders to all children is not the answer, and will only make the problem worse.  IT GOES ALMOST UNNOTICED, but the UN and the US AID programs have furnished improved seed, fertilizer, equipment, all of which have reduced the starvation rates by as much as 30% in some regions.  Oh, and they don’t cost a lot of money, and MILLIONS of people benefit.  But when we give a few of the world’s children asylum in this country at the expense of our own country’s resources, it does nothing to improve the South or Central American economic system for the long term and makes our economic system worse.