Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quick news items

An assortment of stories in the Salvadoran press recently:

El Salvador decided not to advance its clocks forward one hour. Although other Central American countries are making the time shift in the hopes of saving energy, the government in E Salvador found the forecast savings to be too minimal.

Central American countries and the UN World Food Program met in San Salvador to discuss coordinated responses to emergency relief when hurricanes strike. The countries will establish a Regional Emergency Center in Soyapango, outside of San Salvador, where relief supplies will be pre-positioned. Hurricane season officially starts on June 1.

El Salvador's archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle stated in his weekly news conference that the church is aggrieved by the anti-immigrant measures being proposed by the US government. He pointed in particular to the proposals to send 6000 National Guard troops to patrol the southern US border and to build hundreds of miles of border fencing.


El-Visitador said...

Tim, have another look at the report on Monseñor's press conference.

The text regarding the National Guard and fence is very specific, covers several days and branches of the U.S. government, and is not in between quotes. Looks more like "context" provided by the "journalist."

It seems to me that Monseñor did not point in particular to the two items you point out as him having pointed out.

Curiously, the "journalist" failed to mention tiny little items such as the oppotunity for amnesty and path to citizenship that apparently will be offered to millions of foreigners. Opportunities El Salvador does not afford, to the best of my knowledge, to any illegal immigrants itself, and in fact, is known to deny to some legal temporary immigrants, such as Asians.

One might be forgiven to think the itsy bitsy little left-outs might provide some context, too.

Miguel Lerdo said...

Great point about how El Salvador treats illegal immigrants. I support the free movement of labor on both economic and freedom grounds. I appreciate the support of the church on this issue if indeed that was the Monseñor’s intention. However, Salvadorians should look to set an example in liberal immigration policy as well as criticizing the U.S. proposals.

Tim said...


I was not at the press conference and can't comment on what else the archbishop said. However, articles in El Diario, La Prensa, and the cited report on terra.com all reported on the wall and the National Guard troops in the context of his remarks and what other aspect of last week's developments would he say "aggrieved" the church?

It's worth pointing to what else the archbishop said, as quoted in El Diario:

Sobre la falta de empleo en el país, considerada una de las principales causas de la emigración hacia Estados Unidos, dijo que "no solamente las autoridades, sino todos debemos hacer un esfuerzo para crear fuentes de trabajo".

Según Lacalle, en el país existen muchos capitales depositados en los bancos o invertidos en industrias extranjeras, por lo que recomendó que "debe haber un interés por crear fuentes de trabajo en el país y un esfuerzo para capacitar a los jóvenes".

"Es un esfuerzo que se debe hacer para que en el mismo país se puedan encontrar fuentes de trabajo y gente que sea capaz de trabajar con eficacia", apuntó.

Anonymous said...

Two quick points. One, Monseñor Sáenz is not some flaming liberal, and if he comments on a political subject, it is because the Church wants the political world to take heed. He is not alone on this issue: the Mexican bishops, and even the American bishops have similarly criticized the anti-immigrant fervor. Two, are we going to compare El Salvador to the U.S. in immigration policy? Are the two countries similarly situated such that we will ask "El Salvador to set the example" for how a great power like the U.S. should treat immigrants?


Miguel Lerdo said...

Who suggested Monseñor Sáenz was a liberal? Tim’s report suggests that he supports freer immigration and I simply said that I appreciate this support. I suspect that most visitors to this forum – economists, libertarians, internationalists, liberals, and socially-conscious religious people alike - are in agreement on this issue.

As for El Salvador’s immigration policies - is it not hypocritical for the Salvadorian government to deport Asians while complaining about U.S. deportation of undocumented Salvadorians? It’s not like half the world is desperate to earn Salvadorian wages while being preyed upon by street gangs.

Note that in the early 90’s other Central American countries like Panama accepted Haitian refugees, El Salvador refused. The Salvadorian President announced that the best contribution El Salvador could offer was the help of its “very professional Army.” This was just coming out of a Civil War where the military was most famous for massacring peasants and raping nuns. Little surprise the world community said thanks, but no thanks.

wally said...

I´m not sure the term anti-mmigrant does the argument justice. It leaves the reader with the idea the U.S. opposes immigration and all the protesting countries welcome them with open arms. Last year almost a half million people became U.S. citizens by following the legal process. Mexico naturalized about 3,000. Which country would seem to welcome more immigrants? The reality is the U.S. has a very liberal immigration policy and has had since it´s inception. An immigrant may not be able to become the U.S. president, but he can be governor of a large state, even with a terrible accent. In Mexico, naturalized citizens can´t be firemen, policemen or hold any government jobs. The problem the U.S. faces is how to control it´s borders. A large percentage of the world population would like to come live in the U.S., most of them unskilled and poor. No economy, even the one driving the boom in the U.S. right now can sustain that influx of people.
There are also a lot of people who would love to cross the U.S. border to kill infidels for Allah and win their 40 virgins. So the borders have to be controlled, something Mexico and every Central American country endeavors to do as well. In doing so, the door for workers crossing the U.S. border looking for a better life is going to be closed, to what degree the political process will decide. I wish that weren´t the case. If I couldn´t support my family, I´m sure I´d do the same thing. But this is not an anti-immigrant issue, this is a survival issue. It´s very probable that El Salvador will face this same issue in the coming years as her standard of living, as bad as it may look to a lot of it´s citizens, grows increasingly attractive to her neighbors. That will happen even quicker if the tide of people going to the U.S. is choked off. Will it be seen as an anti-immigrant issue then, or will we realize that controlling a country´s borders is something every government is obligated to do?

Miguel Lerdo said...

Survival? Concerns about terrorism are legit, but terrorists tend to come as tourists or cross the Canadian border. The temporary work visas don’t really constitute a terrorist threat and sending troops to the Southern border is not the highest priority for dealing with terrorism. There are much greater vulnerabilities to deal with first such as cargo inspections at ports. Once you have closed off the easiest opportunities, terrorists might take an interest in crossing the Mexican desert or applying for work visas. But until that point, lets put the anti-terrorism money where it is most effective. Also, don’t forget that the U.S. has plenty of home grown terrorists such as the Oklahoma City bombers. There are undoubtedly plenty of U.S. citizen Islamist-terrorists such as Padilla and John Walker as well. Isolationism does not equal safety.

Wally’s blanket statement about the economic unsustainability of immigration is plain bunk. Like international trade and technology growth, immigration increases average economic well-being for native citizens and that’s ignoring the benefits to the immigrants themselves. All three may increase economic inequality, but why just go after immigration. We can all be luddites and collectively farm plots of land within 50 kilometers of where our great-grandparents were born.

Immigrants benefit El Salvador. The poor agricultural workers keep agriculture alive. People are dreaming if they think farmers in a tight, immigration-restricted labor market will earn much higher salaries – the sector would collapse. The agriculture sector can barely survive at international market prices as it is.

As for immigrants from further afield, such as Asia – name one instance where a concentration of Chinese or Jewish or Lebanese immigrants has not helped an economy. Malaysia? Spain? History has shown that immigrants from far away consistently bring entrepreneurial energy and new ideas. Yes, they make excellent scape-goats, but I think Salvadorians are mature enough to avoid the traps of bigotry that so many countries have found themselves in since Queen Isabella expelled the Jews. Is anyone here willing to say that Salvadorians are too small-minded and racist to tolerate a little diversity in the interest of creating a more prosperous, vibrant country?