El Salvador President Nayib Bukele told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday night that high levels of immigration to the United States are not a good thing for the U.S. and was even worse for nations in Latin America, which he said are being gutted of the very people that are needed to build strong economies in those countries.
Bukele said that the surge north has been caused by three factors, including a lack of economic opportunities, a lack of security, and incentives provided in the United States. Bukele also suggested that the policies on the border and enforcement of immigration matters by U.S. authorities, or lack thereof, was a factor in what is happening.
Bukele said that he has seen improvement in his country as they have started to get a handle on the rampant violent crime afflicting his nation, which is a hotbed of MS-13 gang activity.
“If you don’t provide for your people, economic opportunities, if your economy is doing bad, if your security is doing bad, people are going leave, and you’re going to go and try to find a rich country, right? They’re not going to leave for Guatemala. They want to go to the United States,” Bukele said. “So, that makes this country dependent on immigration because you become a net exporter of people. You’re not exporting products or services, you’re exporting people.”
“So, that makes your economy dependent on that because those people send money back to their home countries which is not a good economic formula,” Bukele continued. “That makes the economies dependent of that. So, when you keep this country dependent on that, the economy is like a vicious cycle, so it’s bad for the United States because immigration will go up and it’s bad for our country because people leaving the country will go as well so it’s bad for both of us.”
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, thanks for joining us.
NAYIB BUKELE, PRESIDENT OF EL SALVADOR: Thank you for inviting me.
CARLSON: So there are an estimated 2 million Salvadorans living United States.
BUKELE: Maybe a little more.
CARLSON. Maybe more and more coming now. Why do you think so many people have moved from this country to the U.S.?
BUKELE: Well, it’s obvious. I mean, our country has failed to provide two basic things, which are the two main drivers of immigration, which is the lack of economic opportunity and the lack of security. If, I mean, most people won’t like, doesn’t want to leave their country.
BUKELE: They, they like their culture, they like their food. They like their weather. I mean, it’s it’s their country, they have their family members here, their friends, they leave, most people leave their country because of two main reasons. And those are the two main reasons. And if you add up the civil war we had in the 80s, well, that was the main driver at the beginning. And then you have people, you know, that have cousins over there. And then the cousins says, oh, come here, you will have a job here.
BUKELE: And there’s relative security, based on what you have over there and what you have here. And so those are the main drivers of immigration that our country has failed to provide security and economic opportunity. So people leave, so people leave.
CARLSON: So, but if the richest country in the world says if you cross over the border, we will give you free health care, free education, all these benefits, I mean that’s a draw, isn’t it?
BUKELE: Of course, it’s an incentive. I mean, everything is everything life is pros and cons, right?
BUKELE: So you have for immigration, you have a con, that probably you don’t know the language or you have to, the journey is a difficult one, you may die in the journey. But if in the end, they will receive a lot of things, of course, it’s a, the the pros go up and the cons go down. So it depends. It’s an incentive game here. And if, for example, if here in El Salvador we have better jobs and better security, it’s less, it’s less of an incentive, and you can see it in the numbers. We haven’t changed the country 180 degrees in two years, in 1 year and 9 months, we have been in government, of course. But if you see the numbers two years ago, you see the numbers now, immigration from El Salvador has gone down. And it’s a couple of reasons, but one of the reasons is that, we have improved security by 75%, I mean the homicide rate has down by 75% and the violent crimes have gone down by 75%. And economic opportunities are a little better than what they were two years ago. And there’s more, there’s a little more hope here that the future is going to be better. So that lowers the numbers that way. That’s why you have caravans of 10,000 people going out of Honduras, and you don’t have any caravans going out from El Salvador. But two years ago, El Salvador was bigger than Honduras in immigration. So you have incentives and drivers here, like I told you before, economic opportunities and security, and you have incentives over there. What you will find at the border and what you will find inside and with and with law enforcement over there.
CARLSON: Losing energetic risk taking people is obviously bad for your country, you want to keep people like that here. Do you resent the fact that the United States has offered all these incentives for people to leave your country and go there?
BUKELE: No, I’ll never resent that. But I just think that for a country, it’s not profitable to get the people out. First, it’s immoral. I mean, you need to provide for your people, right?
BUKELE: That’s a moral issue. But you also have an economic issue. If you send your hard working people, and you’re talented people and people that want to work and want to risk it just to go and work, You want to keep them here, because those will be the drivers of your economy. You don’t want them there. So they could take remittance, which will be a small portion of what they will earn and will they produce. You want them to produce here, but you’re talking about problems that have been there, and not only El Salvador but in a lot of countries in Latin America for the last four decades. And this immigration thing it has is just feeding on dependency on immigration of the countries that drive it. So it’s not good for for the United States and it’s not good for El Salvador. The best thing for both of us is to keep our people here and to provide for our people right here and to provide for our people right here in our country and that’s what people here want.
BUKELE: So at the end it’s not, I won’t resent it of course, but I think that it’s better if we can keep our people, that’s our job and morally that’s the thing we have to do.
CARLSON: Explain quickly if you would, what you said is not good for the United States to become dependent on immigration. What do you mean by that?
BUKELE: No, no. Latin American countries. If you don’t provide for your people, economic opportunities, if your economy is doing bad, if your security is doing bad, people are going leave, and you’re going to go and try to find a rich country, right? They’re not going to leave for Guatemala. … They want to go to the United States. So, that makes this country dependent on immigration because you become a net exporter of people. You’re not exporting products or services, you’re exporting people. So, that makes your economy dependent on that because those people send money back to their home countries which is not a good economic formula. That makes the economies dependent of that. So, when you keep this country dependent on that, the economy is like a vicious cycle, so it’s bad for the United States because immigration will go up and it’s bad for our country because people leaving the country will go as well so it’s bad for both of us.