Recognized experts on Latin America policy, including Bensman, were asked, in part: How different would a Democratic administration be from a second term for Trump when it comes to Western Hemisphere relations? Bensman explains why election of a Democrat to the White House would trigger a new mass migration from Central America
By Todd Bensman as originally published March 18, 2020 by the Latin America Adviser
For many Central American migrants who pine to but can’t enter the United States, the potential outcome of the November presidential election is already informing crucial life decisions.
Quite a few U.S.-bound Central Americans stuck in Mexico right now because of President Donald Trump’s policies told me last January in Chiapas that they had calculated to stay in Mexico, rather than return home, on the 50-50 gambit that a Democrat will win. Central Americans blocked in in southern Mexico don’t need highly schooled professional policy experience to see in the election outcome high stakes for them.
Every Democratic presidential primary candidate has promised to undo every Trump immigration policy or rule immediately after taking office. A new mass migration is set and waiting for the starting gun of a Democratic victory. The key to the closed gate is President Trump’s standing threat of progressive Mexican trade tariffs, which forced Mexico last summer to deploy National Guard troops to block roads at 50 locations along the Guatemalan border. This deployment is the iron that undergirds all other American and Mexican push-back policies responsible for ending the 2018-2019 migration of a million Central Americans over the U.S. border.
The troops have largely bottled up northward migration from Guatemala. The scenario much of Central America hopes will unfold is this: a defeated Trump will walk through the White House exit with his tariff trade threat. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would return the troops to their barracks and return Mexico to its transit nation norm. The mass migration restarts, aided by Democratic decisions to idle Trump’s policies.
The pressure building in the Northern Triangle countries, as well as in Mexico, for a Democratic win is palpable, for its immediate end of the Mexican blockade.
This is most illustrated the formation of brand-new caravans that in Honduras despite the decimation of previous ones by Mexican troops.”