Why weren’t families coming over the border to seek asylum 30 years ago?

“Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More than 76,000 Migrants Cross in a Month” (nytimes):

The number of migrant families crossing the southwest border has once again broken records, with unauthorized entries nearly doubling what they were a year ago, suggesting that the Trump administration’s aggressive policies have not discouraged new migration to the United States.

At least 70 such groups of 100 or more people have turned themselves in at Border Patrol stations that typically are staffed by only a handful of agents, often hours away from civilization. By comparison, only 13 such groups arrived in the last fiscal year, and two in the year before.

The difference is that the nature of immigration has changed, and the demographics of those arriving now are proving more taxing for border officials to accommodate. Most of those entering the country in earlier years were single men, most of them from Mexico, coming to look for work. If they were arrested, they could quickly be deported.

Now, the majority of border crossers are not single men but familiesfathers from Honduras with adolescent boys they are pulling away from gang violence, mothers with toddlers from Guatemala whose farms have been lost to drought. Most of these migrants may not have a good case to remain in the United States permanently, but because of legal constraints, it is not so easy to speedily deport them if they arrive with children and claim protection under the asylum laws.

… the practical effect is that most families are released into the country to await their hearings in immigration court. The courts are so backlogged that it could take months or years for cases to be decided. Some people never show up for court at all.

Given U.S. law and policies, all of this makes sense. But why was it different 20 or 30 years ago? We haven’t changed our laws or policies, have we?

Is it Guatemala that has changed for the worse? The population was 8.9 million in 1990 and is now over 17 million (Wikipedia). In other words, there are twice as many people trying to share whatever resources they have down there. But, on the other hand, from 1960 to 1996, the country was embroiled in a civil war. Despite the pressure from the near-doubling of population, surely life in Guatemala today is better than during an actual war.

How about Honduras? Population was 4.9 million in 1990 against 9 million today (Wikipedia). But the 1969-1999 period is summarized as “Wars and corruption” by Wikipedia. Life in Honduras overall should be better today compared to 30 years ago.


18 thoughts on “Why weren’t families coming over the border to seek asylum 30 years ago?

  1. I spent a couple of months in Guatemala in the 1970s, 40+ years ago. Many people in the highlands still wore traditional handwoven clothes. Families would walk barefoot on mountain trails all day with baskets of tomatoes on their heads to sell in the market. Many of them had not attended school at all and did not speak much Spanish. That might have been 40% of the population. The other 60% spoke Spanish and lived a “modern” style of life, though most of those were poor as well. I suspect the average person in Guatemala today has a lot more information about their options then they did 45 or even 30 years ago.

  2. If life is so bad in Guatemala and Honduras how come the population almost doubled since 1990? It reminds me never ending famine in Ethiopia, but again the population of Ethiopia doubled to since 1990. For example take a look on Russia, the things are doing very well over there and population is going down since 1990.

  3. The NYTimes is right. The human body is an evolutionary failure incapable of surviving on all but 4% of the Earth. Most other animals have done a lot better. Lions can survive in Africa, but humans die if they aren’t immediately shipped to US. How we became such an incapable species is a remarkable story of social preferences. 1 gender is only selected for fitness. The other is only selected for finances. We’re the only species which selects for lower fitness among the males.

  4. I think it’s a pretty blatant attempt, supported by the usual suspects, to destabilize the United States. And it’s going to work. You don’t think the Soviet Union really believed they were just going to lose the Cold War and go quietly, did you?

  5. What is happening right now is a complete abrogation of sovereignty combined with at least a generation (or more, as we’ve seen from your previous readings) of fiscal distress, and it’s being done quite deliberately. 30 years ago it was 1989 and if what is happening now was happening then, both parties would be scrambling with everything they have to put a stop to it. If you say anything like that now, you’re a racist and less than human. You’re the only person I know who has tried to ask even the most basic economic question about what is happening. It must be very lonely.


  6. Population growth, land and environmental resources is not necessarily the main cause for a country to be in a slump. Nation like Guatemala or many in South Africa fail because the citizens of those nations do not have the *will* to build a prosperous nation and to take the initiative to do so. The few and powerful oppress the rest.

    There are many nations around the world with worse land resources and yet those nation’s citizens prosper because that’s who they are — it is in their DNA. Signorina, Israel are just 2 examples.

    As to what changed from 30 years ago? The people of Guatemala are now more aware due to far more networking (FB to name one), easier to move around and being feed up such as wanting and hoping for a better life else where.

    Migration is nothing new. People migrated from Africa to Europe an Asia and from Europe to America — in search of a better life. The fit and those with the *will* made it, the rest, well they either adopted, stay at their current slump or died off. This is called “evolution” which worked well 100, 1000 and 10000 years ago but is not sustainable today by a simple migration.

    • “in their DNA” -Wow, you’re on the same page as Nazis I guess. God forbid you consider other socio-economic factors than “will” that determines the fate of a populace.

  7. @UberManOverHere,

    You don’t know me and you don’t know my background to throw “Nazis” at me and at my comment — you are so wrong in dong so.

    If DNA and “will” do not define a person, than all humans should be alike and equal, no? But yet we are not. If DNA and “will” do not define a person, than Jewish and Palestinians, who live on the same land should both be prosperous, no? But yet they are not. What about the people who live in north and south Korea?

    How about sports? Why aren’t all swimmers equal like Michael Phelps? Science? Why aren’t all scientist equal to Albert Ernestine?

    • If DNA and “will” do not define a person, than Jewish and Palestinians, who live on the same land should both be prosperous, no? But yet they are not. What about the people who live in north and south Korea?

      Your question doesn’t really make sense. Is there a person named Jewish and another named Palestinians? If you’re referring to Israel and Palestine, you should keep in mind that Israel has received aid and assistance from the greatest superpower in world history for half a century. Some of that includes advanced weaponry, which it has used to conquer the Palestinians. That includes stealing farms and orchards in the West Bank and preventing Gazan fisherman from travelling more than 6 miles form the coast. These are things that clearly affect the prosperity of Palestinians.

    • “What about the people who live in north and south Korea?” – wait you’ve just refuted your own (ignorant) argument. A group of people who are genetically homogenous, and have a shared history branched off due to internal and external forces. DNA and will have nothing to do w/ S v N Korea.

      “Phelps?” – Maybe it was the bongs?

  8. @Vince,

    You are absolutely right that Israel received aids and assistance from the greatest superpower in the world (I’m assuming you mean the USA?) and from other nations too. Not only that, holocaust victims are compensated by Germany for WWII [1] which is another form of money they can put to use.

    But at the same token, Palestinians have been reviving aids and assistance too, not only from the USA but from other nations too [2].

    Your point about Israel oppressing the Palestinians is also true. However, Palestinians are the once to take the blame because they oppress their own people even more: they keep their citizens in the dark ages instead of smartening them up. Their school text book, even at kindergarten level, contains context of haters toward Israel and USA (and even other foo Arabs). All that Palestinians have to do is educate their children to become productive (they have the money) and in a generation or two, due to population growth, they will have a good chance to take over.

    It all boils down to being smart and taking care of your citizens as a collective — Israel does this, Palestinians don’t.

    Still want more proof? Howe about this: “the team claimed that part of the Palestinian leader’s [Yasser_Arafat] wealth was in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion … The head of the investigation stated that “although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat … An investigation conducted by the General Accounting Office reported that Arafat and the PLO held over $10 billion in assets even at the time when he was publicly claiming bankruptcy.” [3]

    So, is DNA and “will” not a factor?

    P.S.: I’m a Christian from Syria who migrated, legally, to the USA in 1981, a process that took my family 6 years back than (it will take over 20 years today). All of my family members became US citizen between 1985 and 1990.

    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/world/europe/for-60th-year-germany-honors-duty-to-pay-holocaust-victims.html
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_aid_to_Palestinians
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasser_Arafat#Financial_dealings

  9. @CalmDownPatriot – you’ve made me feel a little better. Now, could you please do your best to make it go down a lot faster, particularly among people seeking asylum with children so that they’re eligible for so many of our welfare programs? I would appreciate it if you’d continue to try and make me feel better. Thanks.

    • If only I could make you feel better- you’ve bought in to an irrational bogeyman to blame so clearly facts won’t do the trick. Maybe watch the new season of Game of Thrones – now those are some immigrants no one wants.

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