Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

Central American Migrants Are ‘Voting With Their Feet’ Despite U.S. Threats (Wall Street Journal)

July 19, 2019

From the article:

"CHINACLA, Honduras—President Trump’s government recently announced more than $560 million in aid cuts to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador—the Northern Triangle—in a bid to pressure them to slow the flow of migrants to the U.S.

But the plan faces a grim economic reality: aid isn’t nearly as vital as the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by migrants in the U.S.

That gives thousands of poor farmers here in a vast region of tropical forest and farmland in southern Honduras a strong incentive to migrate in search of better wages and economic stability. And it gives the Central American governments little incentive to stop them.

'No amount of economic development aid is going to greatly transform economic opportunity in the Northern Triangle in short order,' said Michael Clemens, an economist and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank. 'In contrast, remittances are critical across the region to shield families from poverty and from bad shocks from things like crop failures—which drive more migration.'

Remittances totaled $4.8 billion to Honduras, $5.4 billion to El Salvador and $9.5 billion to Guatemala in 2018, according to data compiled by the World Bank, numbers that have steadily risen for more than a decade as more immigrants come and find higher-paying jobs. By contrast, the U.S. sent a total of $2.6 billion to the entire region over the last four fiscal years..."

Source Location

Related Experts

Photo of Michael Clemens
Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow