As The Caravan Cometh - What are the pols and pundits not telling us?

Pushing People Out of La Patria

migrant caravan 2018 October

As of this writing, reports are that the determined “caravan” of migrants marching northward from Central America toward the United States has barged across the Guatemalan/Mexican border. It now counts some 7,000 Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans, and others, with more joining the ranks all the time. Those interviewed say that nothing will stop them from entering the U.S., and so far, they have been undeterred by President Trump’s constant stream of warnings and threats.

The images of throngs of people trudging doggedly from failing and failed states toward another besieged beacon of Western democracy and relative prosperity are reminiscent of those from 2015. That was when waves of marchers from the turbulent, war-torn Middle East stampeded into an unprepared, unsuspecting Europe after German Chancellor Angela Merkel naively or malevolently opened the floodgates.

The images are also reminiscent of the prescient, disturbing 1973 novel Camp of the Saints, by French author and explorer Jean Raspail. In Rapail’s dystopian vision, smug, virtue-signaling elites, journalists, rock stars, churches, and politicians betray their countries and Western civilization – aiding, abetting, and cheering on as their homelands are swamped by uncontrolled, mass immigration from the teeming, poverty-stricken Third World. Opening the borders to one and all is portrayed as a supreme act of self-redemption, meant to atone for the West’s historic litany of sins and crimes against humanity, or at least that share of humanity with darker skin.

Immigration economists have long studied the “push-pull” factors that drive emigration and immigration. Perhaps the single most cited push factor is lack of economic opportunities in the countries of origin, that is, widespread poverty and unemployment. A colleague of mine draws attention to 2017 per capita income rankings by country from the CIA World Factbook.

The United States is ranked 19th among all nations with a GDP (Purchasing Power Parity basis) per capita of $59,500. By comparison, Honduras – where the caravan began, and which has contributed the largest number of marchers – is ranked #170, with GDP (PPP) per capita of $5,600.

The “push” theorists argue that this stark disparity in economic well-being is a major factor, and perhaps the dominant one, driving Honduran migration to the United States. It certainly accounts for why several former Honduran in-laws of mine (a sister-in-law and several nephews) made the risky trek northward across Guatemala and Mexico years ago. They waded across the Rio Grande to enter illegally into the United States and settle in Texas.

There they all found under-the-table, off-the-books jobs in Texas’ booming underground economy. One nephew was deported back to Honduras after being arrested in a scuffle with another man in a bad part of Dallas, but it wasn’t long before he was back. The border that President Obama insisted was secure did not stop him.

Other Central American citizens who have joined the caravan hail from El Salvador (ranked #146 at $8,900), Guatemala (ranked #153 at $8,100, and Nicaragua (ranked #165 at $5,800).

The Push Factor That Must Not Be Named

But there is another major push factor for mass emigration from Central America which is never acknowledged by the politically correct mainstream media or the preening pundits who pontificate on this issue: rapid population growth (aka overpopulation).

Rapid population growth has been aided and abetted in Central America across the decades by the Vatican, which has dogmatically and tenaciously opposed family planning, birth control and contraception at every turn in these Catholic-dominant countries.

I served three years (1985-1988) as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and I married a Honduran, which has kept me connected to that country for the past three decades. The population explosion was already in mid-detonation when I lived there three decades ago. At that time Honduras had an average total fertility rate (TFR) of about 7 (births per female across her reproductive years). The annual rate of increase of its population was 3 to 3.5%, with a doubling time of just 20 to 23 years.

Responding to these underlying demographic trends, the population of Honduras has quadrupled in the last half century (see graph).

Honduras population growth 1960-2015

Evidence of the population boom’s deleterious environmental, social, cultural, and economic effects was even then widespread, if only one had eyes to see. Economic growth had fallen behind population growth, so that GDP per capita was falling. Capital formation was thwarted among the poor and anemic job creation in the private and public sectors was no match for the ever-larger multitudes of new job seekers.

Classrooms were crowded and school supplies overstretched. Half the country was illiterate (analfabeto), including my own Honduran mother-in-law. Decrepit infrastructure and utilities – bridges, roads, water and power supplies, etc. – could not keep up with the population’s mushrooming demands.

Honduras’ tropical rainforests and tropical dry forests were being cut down and cleared to provide firewood, timber, and land for subsistence cultivation to feed more and more people. Topsoil was being washed away. Water bodies were polluted and drinking water contaminated. Honduras’ colorful wildlife, including howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, spotted jaguars, and iguanas, were being poached mercilessly and driven out of their homes as forest habitats were destroyed.

When I was in the Peace Corps, I ranted constantly to Hondurans about overpopulation, and they were typically baffled at first, because no one had ever spoken to them about human numbers before in the context of the old aphorism that "there can be too much of a good thing" (i.e., including people). But after listening to me, most nodded in general agreement that the demographic trends of their country were indeed a serious problem.

Rampant deforestation in Honduras – clearing to make way for unsustainable subsistence farming on steep mountain slopes

Honduras rampant deforestation

In 1988, fresh out of the Peace Corps and studying at the University of New Mexico, I wrote an article entitled “Overpopulation Real Concern” for the campus newspaper, The Daily Lobo. It read in part:

What matters is not so much [Honduras’] current population of 4.7 million, but its growth rate. It is doubling every 20 years. To argue that the country is not overpopulated is to miss the point; doubling every 20 years, it soon will be.

Honduras is a lush, tropical country, but very mountainous. Only one-fifth of its land is arable. The rest is steep hillsides with thin soils poorly suited to cultivation.

Yet that is precisely what they are subjected to. Rapidly increasing numbers of impoverished peasants are forced to scrape these slopes bare in their desperate struggle to survive. Streams are clogged with silt that used to be life-giving soil.

Forests once covered the entire country; only one-third remain. Blistering droughts now lay siege to the most deforested regions.

Yet the country does not look crowded to the untrained eye, and many people do not think the national average of seven children per mother is excessive.

The Catholic Church, in fact, argues that Honduras is under-populated. It lobbies vehemently against any programs that smack of "family planning" or “population control."

The nation's archbishop [its highest ranking cleric] recently called the Honduran Family Planning Association "murderers" and "agents of the demon." Abortions are illegal, so it is for distributing contraceptives and knowledge that the organization earned this condemnation.

Last year opposition by the Church and its allies scuttled a proposed United Nations funded population education program. It was denounced as "genocide” and ·a “knife stab against Honduras.” A Catholic spokesman claimed the country's resources could support double or triple the present population.

It is doubtful he understood how quickly it will double and triple. It has taken centuries to reach 4.7 million, but at present rates it will reach nine million in just 20 years and 18 million in 20 years more. That is the nature of exponential growth.

Technical analyses indicate many resources are already severely stressed. What will happen with two, four, or eight times as many people? Honduras is on a collision course with disaster. But it is not unique. Most of the world's poorer countries share its dilemma.

I wrote this article as a college student three decades ago. If I and many other population and immigration activists hadn't been such "voices in the wilderness," had been heeded rather than ignored and attacked, today there wouldn't be this misbegotten caravan of “huddled masses” heading for our border, to say nothing of the thousands of caravans that will besiege us in the future if this isn't dealt with effectively.

There is Enough Blame To Go Around

Now the population of Honduras has swelled to almost twice what it was when I lived there. It would have been even larger if birth rates had not come down quite a bit (in spite of the Church rather than because of it) and if rising emigration to the U.S. had not bent the growth curve still lower. Yet today, unemployment, crime, violence, and gang activity are all rampant, and all of these dire consequences of overpopulation were just so damn predictable decades ago.

Mainstream politicians and the MSM continue to entirely ignore the underlying population facet of this unfolding disaster. As Garrett Hardin wrote in 1971 after half a million Bangladeshis had just perished in a cyclone, "Nobody ever dies of overpopulation." Or at least according to the shallow, short-sighted, ignorant news media.

All sides are complicit in this denial and ignorance. Republicans are because ever since President Reagan they have slashed foreign aid for birth control and reproductive health. Unbridled population growth was no longer viewed as a potential national security threat.

In addition, the GOP is now dominated (on this issue at least) by religious zealots and single-issue anti-abortion activists. Furthermore, most Republicans and “conservatives” nowadays, again since Reagan’s time, refuse to acknowledge any limits to growth that man's ingenuity and technology cannot overcome if only bloated, bumbling government would just get out of the way to permit productive, solution-generating private enterprise to unleash its genius.

Democrats are to blame because they now dismiss concerns about overpopulation as "blaming the victim," i.e., the victims of supposedly never-ending racism, unbridled capitalism, colonialism, xenophobia, nativism, oppression, imperialism, and all the other "isms" they love to cry crocodile tears about.

And of course the Democrats’ enlightened and exalted sentiments for the borderless utopia John Lennon dreamed of in his fanciful anthem “Imagine,” and against mean-spirited national sovereignty and the illegitimate borders that demarcate nation states, only serve to fan the fantasies and yearnings of millions of would-be immigrants from Central America and around the world, for whom America represents a wonderland where the grass is always greener.

The Democrats now believe that prospective migrants themselves – and not Americans, but rather the 7.6 billion “citizens of the world” – get to determine who and how many will settle in our country, which has become little more than “a colony of the world,” according to the late U.S. Senator and former anti-Establishment presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. But the Democrats have it backwards.

If the Democrats get their way, if borders are beaten down and welcoming bridges are built instead of forbidding walls, if immigration skyrockets from its already historic levels, then as elder geopolitical statesman George F. Kennan (former U.S. ambassador to the USSR, and architect of the “containment” policy toward the Soviet Union) once wrote, immigration to the U.S. will diminish on its own, “only when the levels of overpopulation and poverty in the United States are equal to those of the countries from which these people are now anxious to escape.”

That is the delightful future today’s globalist Democrats are promising for America.

Acting as everyone’s safety valve sends the wrong message to the world and rewards those countries and cultures that have refused to face up to demographic realities.

The U.S. should send these folks home, or better yet, to the Holy See. Let them knock at Pope Francis’ gates, since he too has been outspoken in his support for unlimited mass migration. It’s about time the Holy Father’s much-vaunted humility and hospitality are put to the acid test.