RELEASE: U.S. Must Reject Politics of Cruelty and Chart New Course to Meet Migration Challenge in the Americas, CAP Report Says

Washington, D.C. — When it comes to migration policy, a new report from the Center for American Progress argues that the United States must reject the politics of cruelty and chart a new course that is cooperative, compassionate, and pragmatic.

The report, which is being released against the backdrop of shocking humanitarian abuses at the southern border, offers a reasonable alternative to the toxic, nativist rhetoric and policy President Donald Trump regularly peddles. It rejects the false narrative of an unmanageable migration crisis and the failed policy of cruelty toward families and children. Instead, the report recommends making investments in diplomacy and cooperation while standing up for core American values such as democracy and human rights, both at home and abroad.

“After two years of cruel, incendiary rhetoric and policies at odds with American values, one thing is clear: Trump’s border policies have failed,” said Dan Restrepo, a CAP senior fellow and co-author of the report. “Rather than build walls and separate families, the United States must build a safer, more democratic, and cooperative hemisphere to advance its national interest by mitigating and addressing the root causes of migration.”

Migration in the Americas cannot be addressed by fear and rhetoric; it requires a far more ambitious, concerted, and coordinated approach that relies on strategies that are cheaper and more effective than the president’s doomed border wall, the report says. To get migration policy right, the United States must:

  • Understand the underlying drivers of migration, including profound governance failures in the Northern Triangle of Central America; system-failure in Venezuela; and negative effects of climate change throughout the region
  • Invest, at scale, in peace and democracy in the Americas in ways designed to address key migration drivers in both the immediate- and longer-term that are cheaper and more effective than the president’s doomed border wall and wildly misguided punitive tariffs
  • Commit to a whole-of-society approach that ensures that responsibility for managing migration is shared across local, national, and regional civic, private, and government sector actors
  • Adopt a humane and effective approach to immigration and border management that allows the United States to exercise arguably indispensable hemispheric leadership on migration and restore respect for the rule of law in our system.

Some of the key elements of an approach that recognizes the dignity of migrants and is designed to function effectively would be to:

  • Design a legal immigration system that provides realistic, evidence-based, and sufficiently flexible avenues for migration
  • Reform immigration enforcement to preserve due process and achieve fair and just outcomes
  • Restore the integrity of the U.S. asylum system by ending the “remain in Mexico” policy and other asylum bans and overturning the short-sighted rulings issued by the current and former attorney general that limit who can receive asylum and when asylum-seekers in detention may be entitled to a simple bond hearing before an immigration judge
  • Stop sending troops to the U.S. southern border

Read the report: “Getting Migration in the Americas Right: A National Interest-Driven Approach” by Dan Restrepo, Trevor Sutton, and Joel Martinez.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202-478-6327.