Immigration: The Long-Term Solution (Update)

 

1000px-Flag_of_Honduras.svgA few weeks ago, I argued that the long-term solution to the United States’ immigration problem is for Latin America become a place worth living in. While Latin Americans are both ultimately responsible for their situation and the only ones capable of fixing it, I suggested that we may be able to offer some help around the edges.

Lo and behold, some folks are trying to do that in an incredibly ambitious way: by attempting to carve out semi-autonomous, privately-run areas within Honduras called ZEDEs. Though required to abide by Honduran law, ZEDEs will be able to set their own local rules, maintain their own police forces, and run their own courts through a collaboration between private corporations and local citizens. The objective — besides making money — is to create model free cities that can be emulated outside the ZEDEs.

Reason recently sent a film crew to Honduras and shot a series of four five-minute documentaries on ZEDEs. Take a watch when you have a few minutes:

Again, wildly ambitious and not without its risks. One of the architects of the project pulled out over concerns that the laws authorizing the ZEDEs had too few transparency requirements (though there may be some personal grievance operating in his decision, too). Honduras may also prove to be too much of a mess for the ZEDEs to succeed, and it’s worth noting that a private enterprise with all the powers of a state is prone to the same temptations as one. The project might fail and free-market capitalism might — rightly or wrongly — get the blame.

But given the staggering violence, poverty, and corruption that already afflicts Hondurans, it’s hard to see how it could do much worse.

Image Credit: “Flag of Honduras.” Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Tom, good for you for offering an intelligent, seemingly well reasoned try at part of the solution.

    • #1
  2. Byron Horatio Member
    Byron Horatio
    @ByronHoratio

    Excellent stuff. I have always been a big proponent of the Free Cities movement that Newt Gingrich has advocated before. It was in the same spirit of this

    • #2
  3. user_1700 Coolidge
    user_1700
    @Rapporteur

    We had a discussion about ZEDEs in the Member Feed last month. The concept is intriguing, and the upside of foreign investment is huge, but a potential fatal flaw is that these zones exist by permission of the Honduran government — permission that could conceivably be withdrawn if the mood of the electorate changes. 

    That said, it never fails to amaze that there are people — Lauren Carasik, the author of the Foreign Affairs piece Tom linked to above, being one — who will fight so hard to keep underprivileged people poor (but with their “human rights” blessedly intact).

    • #3
  4. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    George Rapp: We had a discussion about ZEDEs in the Member Feed last month. The concept is intriguing, and the upside of foreign investment is huge, but a potential fatal flaw is that these zones exist by permission of the Honduran government — permission that could conceivably be withdrawn if the mood of the electorate changes. 

    I missed that one!  Thanks, George.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    A very exciting idea.     

    • #5
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The big problem I see with this idea is that it may lead to the creation of two entrenched societies within Honduras.  

    Under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi society had two parts: the Ba’athists and everyone else.  There were universities, hospitals, libraries, and museums–things you would normally find in an advanced society. But these resources and institutions existed for the use of the Ba’athists alone.  

    I really want poverty to be gone, and I like the city-in-a-box notion, but I’m wondering how it will play out over a twenty-year time frame.  The best way would be to have a built-in growth and expansion plan that would, little by little, draw in the rest of the country’s population.

    • #6
  7. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    Seems that different forms of this get tried in many countries. One way is to have a distinct lagnu age to create a natural barrier to outsiders.

    • #7
  8. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: While Latin Americans are both ultimately responsible for their situation and the only ones capable of fixing it.

    False. You’re not responsible for being born in a bad place.

    Also, dang you Related Posts box!

    • #8

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