Sonia Nazario ’82 writes in The New York Times:

Three years ago, Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world. The city of San Pedro Sula had the highest homicide rate in the country. And the Rivera Hernández neighborhood, where 194 people were killed or hacked to death in 2013, had the highest homicide rate in the city. Tens of thousands of young Hondurans traveled to the United States to plead for asylum from the drug gangs’ violence.

Nazario is most famous for arguing that the US ought to have, more or less, open borders. We should provide asylum to anyone fleeing violence. Since almost all poor countries are much more violent than the West, this position amounts to giving everyone from places like Honduras the right to live in the US.

Call me crazy, but I have no interest in allowing millions of people from places like Rivera Hernández to come to my country.

This summer I returned to Rivera Hernández to find a remarkable reduction in violence, much of it thanks to programs funded by the United States that have helped community leaders tackle crime. By treating violence as if it were a communicable disease and changing the environment in which it propagates, the United States has not only helped to make these places safer, but has also reduced the strain on our own country.

First, it is hardly surprising that, if you return three years later to the place that was (then) the most violent spot in the world, you will find a reduction in violence. This is almost a textbook example of regression toward the mean.

Second, all (?) Nazario’s sources have a vested interest in her thesis being true. It’s like writing a report from Iraq in the fall of 2003 and only talking to Neocons! A proper reporter would have talked to more (any?) critics, would have discussed the argument that US dollars are no more likely to make Honduras better off in the long run than similar efforts have worked elsewhere.

But, like all of Nazario’s work, especially Enrique’s Journey, the story-telling sparkles. Read the whole thing.

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