The subject of immigration to our southern border has been heated, controversial and political. Debates on repairs for families separated at the southern border to the news of thousands of Haitians fleeing their country and seeking asylum in the United States is an issue that constantly attracts attention.
Over the years, elected officials have suggested various solutions to stem the flow of immigration to our southern border, from border walls to more people. Unfortunately, many of these solutions seek to address the symptoms of migration rather than the root causes. Instead, our country’s leaders should look at the factors that motivate Central American immigration, such as the financial and logistical support these countries desperately need it.
An often overlooked solution is to invest in promising sectors in Central America, such as clothing. Preventing migration from Central America by investing in garment factories in countries like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua would not only allow people to find prosperity in their own communities. , but would also provide the United States with an opportunity to broaden our own economic outlook.
Investments such as those made in garment factories create jobs that reduce poverty and, in turn, contribute to the economic growth of every country. On 76% of workers in the Northern Triangle work in low-paying jobs, often with little job security. These garment factories would offer higher wages and job security to countless citizens. Beyond mere financial growth, investing in this region will bring stability, which the region badly needs.
Establishing American-owned clothing factories in Central America is not just a humanitarian endeavor. By expanding our apparel supply chains close to home, we can continue to compete with other regions of the world while making our products cheaper for American workers and consumers. And now during increased inflation, we must use all available tools to alleviate the rising costs for American workers and families.
The United States would also not lose jobs due to factory outsourcing. Many garment factories in Central America receive fabrics and fabrics made in the United States, which are then processed into clothing. From there, clothing made in Central America is sent back to the United States for sale to consumers, and the lower costs benefit everyone.
This type of economic maneuver strengthens both our economy and those of our allies in Central America. And those efforts could be even more effective if certain trade restrictions, such as the rules of origin of the Dominican Republic-Central America FTA, were broadened to allow more products sold between those countries to be duty-free.
We have the tools available to help the countries of Central America and help ourselves; we just need to be able to use them. We need President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to understand what’s at stake. We need US clothing manufacturers to be able to operate in Central America with ease and less paperwork. There are trade agreements, but they can be conflicting and difficult to maneuver.
The Biden administration is looking for solutions to the problems at our border, and we need them to understand that economic expansion can be a powerful tool in achieving this goal. Establishing garment factories in these countries will give Central Americans who would otherwise immigrate to the United States, better opportunities to seek economic prosperity and stability in their country.
Supporting economic investments in these countries has the potential to bring long-term growth to the Western Hemisphere, enable American manufacturers to reach their full potential, and create an inclusive economy for workers across the Americas. .
Cesar Chavez is an Arizona State Representative and the Vice Chairman of the Membership of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.