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The Current Migrant Crisis Was Created by US Foreign Policy, Not Trump

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EDITOR’S NOTE:&nbspThis article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

It’s hard to believe that more than four years have passed since the police shot Amílcar Pérez-López a few blocks from my house in San Francisco’s Mission District. He was an immigrant, 20 years old, and his remittances were the sole support for his mother and siblings in Guatemala. On February 26, 2015, two undercover police officers shot him six times in the back, although they would claim he’d been running toward them with an upraised butcher knife.

For two years, members of my little Episcopal church joined other neighbors in a weekly evening vigil outside the Mission police station, demanding that the district attorney bring charges against the men who killed Amílcar. When the medical examiner’s office continued to drag its feet on releasing its report, we helped arrange for a private autopsy, which revealed what witnesses had already reported—that he had indeed been running away from those officers when they shot him. In the end, the San Francisco district attorney declined to prosecute the police for the killing, although the city did reach a financial settlement with his family back in Guatemala.

Still, this isn’t really an article about Amílcar, but about why he—like so many hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, and El Salvadorans in similar situations—was in the United States in the first place. It’s about what drove 225,570 of them to be apprehended by the US Border Patrol in 2018 and 132,887 of them to be picked up at or near the border in a single month—May—of this year. As Dara Lind observed at Vox, “This isn’t a manufactured crisis, or a politically engineered one, as some Democrats and progressives have argued.”

It is indeed a real crisis, not something the Trump administration simply cooked up to justify building the president’s wall. But it is also absolutely a manufactured crisis, one that should be stamped with the label “made in the USA,” thanks to decades of Washington’s interventions in Central American affairs. Its origins go back at least to 1954 when the CIA overthrew the elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz. In the 1960s, dictatorships would flourish in that country (and elsewhere in the region) with US economic and military backing.

When, in the 1970s and 1980s, Central Americans began to rise up in response, Washington’s support for right-wing military regimes and death squads, in Honduras and El Salvador in particular, drove thousands of the inhabitants of those countries to migrate here, where their children were recruited into the very US gangs now devastating their countries. In Guatemala, the United States supported successive regimes in genocidal wars on its indigenous Mayan majority. To top it off, climate change, which the United States has done the most of any nation to cause (and perhaps the least to forestall or mitigate), has made subsistence agriculture increasingly difficult to sustain in many parts of Central America.





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Thanks !

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