In Every Day We Live Is the Future, a remarkable book that came out last year, Wisconsin author Douglas Haynes writes about the devastating impacts brought by worldwide economic and climate-related trends. He cites a United Nations prediction that "by 2050, three billion people might live in shantytowns and favelas--almost half of the world's projected urban population."
But Haynes's focus is not on studies or statistics; it's on the day-to-day lives of two neighboring families in Managua, Nicaragua. He takes us into their shanties and has us trudge through their mud.
That's kind of what we've set out to do with this issue, to look at immigration in a way that highlights its human dimension. As the United States and other developed countries recklessly exact a brutal toll on poorer nations, spurring mass migration, we must choose how to respond: to punish those who come here, often out of pure necessity, or live up to our ideals.
Donald Trump deserves much of the blame for demonizing immigrants, for his own wretched political purposes. But he does not deserve all of it. As Maeve Higgins reminds us in her essay, "The Luck of the Irish," U.S. immigration policy has long been driven by racial bias. Fairness has never been a fundamental goal. "It's dumb luck that I was born white and Irish," she writes, reflecting on her own easy path.
Jeff Abbott, writing from Central America, explores how developments in Honduras and Guatemala, in which the U.S. government is directly implicated, are generating new refugees, some now banging at our door. Maya Averbuch reports on one class of refugees, from Haiti, huddled in Tijuana, on the U.S.-Mexican border. Stephanie Hoo tells of Southeast Asians in our own country living in fear of deportation, sometimes to places where they have never lived, as the United States shrugs off what it once regarded as its moral obligation. And Ruth Conniff writes from Mexico about efforts to create economic opportunity as an alternative to leaving the country in search of work.
We have two stories on El Salvador. Anna Lekas Miller explores the chilling possibility that Salvadorans, including some of those who may return...