asylum seekers, Central America, cities, crime, El Salvador, election 2020, FBI, Golden Triangle, Guatemala, homicide, Im-Politic, Immigration, Joe Biden, migrants, murder, New Nationalism.com, Robert Claude, Trump, WorldPopulationReview.com
One of Joe Biden’s central campaign promises has been to reverse Trump administration moves to curb most forms of legal and illegal entry into the United States by migrants from abroad, and one of the biggest complaints he and other supporters of loosening all forms of immigration restrictions has concerned the Trump policies toward those seeking asylum.
In particular, these critics of the President’s charge that the administration has unjustifiably, and even cruelly, restricted the grounds for a valid asylum claim to the longstanding criteria of persecution or fear of suffering persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, “membership in a particular social group,” or “political opinions.” Among the circumstances the administration was overlooking, as the former Vice President’s website explains, has been was the recent outbreak of gang violence in Central American countries that has supposedly forced numerous residents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in particular to flee northward for their lives.
As a result,, Biden has pledged to “restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do–protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely” – including expanding the definition of persecution to include (among other threats) victimization or fear thereof of gang and other major criminal violence.
I’ve backed the Trump stance out of concern that such changes would trigger a completely unabsorbable flood of asylum-seekers and recipients who would be granted entry for reasons having little or nothing to do with longstanding U.S. definition of asylum grounds, and prevalent in every country on earth — and everything to do with an understandable but much less dramatic quest for higher living standards.
So I was grateful to Robert Claude, who puts out the very fine New Nationalism blog, for pointing out to me this past weekend an item he posted over the summer pointing out that several American cities recently have suffered from murder rates that actually are as high or even higher than those of major cities in those three Central American countries (which collectively are called “The Golden Triangle).
Because Robert’s figures only went up to 2017, I decided to investigate a little further. And lo and behold – as of full-year 2019, the story remains the same.
It’s important to note that not all major American cities are Central America-like homicide hotbeds. But significantly, four are. Here are the numbers for murders (and other “non-negligent homicides” for the United States) – drawn from the latest of the FBI’s annual U.S. crime reports, from local news organization accounts for cities not included in the FBI surveys, and from the worldpopulationreview.com website. The figures represent murders etc per 100,000 inhabitants:
San Salvador, El Salvador: 59.1
Guatemala City, Guatemala: 53.5
Tegucigalpa, Honduras: 48.0
St. Louis, Missouri: 64.54
Baltimore, Maryland: 58.27
Birmingham, Alabama: 50.51
Detroit. Michigan: 41.45
Moreover, some U.S. cities are uncomfortably close to Central American murder levels. They include Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana (31.72 and 30.67, respectively), and Kansas City Missouri (30.49).
Some caveats are important. Each of the Central American cities is considerably larger than the American murder capitals – and scale may affect murder and other crime rates. Moreover, the three Central American cities cited are all national capitals. There’s evidence that in smaller cities in the region, the murder rates are somewhat higher. And it bears observing that the U.S. figures are all for the relevant cities proper. For Tegucigalpa, the numbers may include suburbs. The coverage for the other two Central American cities wasn’t specified.
At the same time, even though most U.S. cities are still much safer than most of their Central American counterparts, keep in mind the trends. For many of these U.S. metropolises, the murder rates have gone up so far this year. According to the U.S. State Department agency that monitors crime and safety conditions generally for U.S. travelers, the murder rates for each of the three Golden Triangle countries (data by city isn’t reported) have fallen substantially in recent years. (See here, here, and here.)
The murder rates in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are still horrific. But so are those for the four U.S. cities with comparable problems — and for those urban centers which aren’t much safer. Which at least logically raises a big question for the Biden-ites if they win the White House: If they’re determined to permit foreigners to come to the United States for fear of getting murdered, would they give Americans facing the same problems the same right, including the same forms of resettlement assistance?