Even as the latest busload of migrants from Texas arrived in D.C. late Tuesday night with a total of at least 5,100 migrants and leaders like the Mayor of New York and the Mayor of DC complain about the influx of immigrants in their cities, the Biden administration does not seem to find its footing on the issue of immigration.

Recently, immigration advocates met with the Biden administration at the White House, urging immigration reform. After undoing many of the security measures implemented by the previous administration, they backtracked. Consequently, according to the Biden administration, they have now authorized the closing of the gaps at the border wall at the Morelos Dam in Arizona.

During a time when hot-button Supreme Court rulings and fears of economic recession dominate political debate, immigration remains a top issue among many U.S. voters. But rather than “doing something” simply to appease political allies, the Biden White House, and all U.S. leaders, should address the core of our immigration crisis. 

The United States is facing an immigration crisis for two major reasons: the rampant corruption in neighboring Latin American countries and failed U.S. immigration policies. First, consider Latin America today. People don’t leave prosperity. The reason people immigrate from countries in the region is that they are plagued by violence and poverty as a result of corruption.

Even though many Latin American countries recognize the importance of a capitalist market for progress, fraud and corruption stand in the way of prosperity for the people. Corrupt governments become oligarchies, which, in some cases, end up becoming dictatorships.

The economic situation in Latin America is a direct consequence of corruption. These circumstances are difficult for economic empowerment, especially for women. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, women make up a larger percentage of poor households. In 2019, for every 100 men living in poverty in Latin America, there were 112.7 women in poverty. The UN report says, “This shows the lack of economic autonomy of women.”

Latin American poverty can’t easily be solved by foreign aid dollars: The United States has long been a major contributor of foreign assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Between FY1946 and FY2019, the United States provided $93.8 billion ($194.5 billion in constant 2019 dollars) of assistance to the region. But if these governments don’t eradicate their own issues of corruption, all the humanitarian aid will end up in corrupt hands and not in the hands of those who need it. 

Ultimately, the best way the U.S. can address immigration is through more effective measures to protect its borders. We receive approximately 1 million migrants from around the world every year in our country. We are by far the most generous country in the world. Most of the migrants that come through the southern U.S. border come from Latin America, and they claim they are searching for a better life. 

In addition, if the U.S. does not project a strong position when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws, other countries in the region will not collaborate to stop the crisis. We need stronger leadership throughout the world, so that when the U.S. calls, others answer. 

Regrettably, many immigrants crossing the border do not pursue legal avenues, which leads to fatal consequences. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there were 239,416 illegal encounters along the U.S. southwest border as of May. In the month of June, a semi-truck filled with migrants was found by authorities in San Antonio. Of the migrants, 53 died due to asphyxia, and 17 were hospitalized. Border security is needed if we want to avoid these devastating events.