President Trump has prioritized putting “America first” since his days as a candidate and continues to promote the protection of American jobs as essential to the county’s success. While he has focused on building a border wall and increasing deportations to achieve this goal and tackle our illegal immigration problem, the President must also pursue policies that decrease incentives for immigrants to illegally enter the U.S. in the first place.
The best way to combat these forces is to go to the source and create compelling economic reasons for would-be migrants to remain at home. It’s a complex task, but there are steps that the President can immediately take, like building upon existing investments and opportunities in the countries where people are fleeing.
For example, an American-run silver mine in Guatemala, which provides jobs for nearly 8,000 Guatemalans, is currently under siege by radical environmental activists. President Trump should encourage its continued operation to provide opportunity, prosperity and stability to those in the region.
Since the mine began operating in San Rafael a few years ago, it has had a tremendous economic impact on the surrounding community. More than 100 businesses have opened — including banks, restaurants, hotels and transportation companies. This has given steady income to nearly 7,000 locals on top of the more than 1,000 employed directly by the mine’s operator, Tahoe Resources. It is precisely the type of opportunity that discourages illegal immigration — especially since 95 percent of the jobs at the mine are held by Guatemalans.
Unfortunately, radical environmental activists are sabotaging the operation, bringing forth a lawsuit over unsubstantiated claims that has led to the mine being shut down for more than six months. While the mine’s opponents say they are working for indigenous populations, much of their funding is provided by foreign activists — $17 million in fact. Grassroots they are not.
Guatemala’s court held a final hearing on the mine’s future on October 25, and while it should have ruled within five days, there has been no verdict. The delay is already causing economic damage. After paying every employee in full for months, the mine’s operator announced last week that it had to lay off 25 percent of its workforce in the region. The stalled operations also mean that the company has stopped paying taxes and royalties to the government, causing Guatemala to lose millions per month in much-needed revenue.
If the shutdown becomes permanent, the cuts will only deepen and inevitably hard-working Guatemalans will turn their attention to the better opportunities available in the United States.
Those immigrants will compete for American jobs and resources. Last year alone, the United States spent $3.2 billion identifying, detaining and deporting illegal immigrants – a figure calculated without counting the tens of billions more used to support those who were not identified.
All in all, it is clear why the Trump Administration should act on this issue. The mine protects American jobs, complements other efforts to address illegal immigration, and is vital to the success of a Reno-based company.
While this may seem at first glance to be an issue contained to Guatemala, President Trump should leverage his considerable power to encourage support of the mine. After all, when radicals take aim at an American company, what is a President to do but put America first?
Drew Johnson is a Senior Scholar at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.