Is Ecuador Reconsidering “Universal Citizenship”?

We’ve reported here a number of times about how so-called “extra-continental” refugees and asylum seekers have been coming into our hemisphere by way of Ecuador, since that country requires no visa. Once in, they traverse Colombia and then, usually with the aid of illegal “guides,” cross the Darien Gap into Panama, after which they are on the road to the U.S.A.

Mexican Police Battle African and Haitian Immigrants Demanding Free Passage to U.S., Tapachula, Mexico, August 27, 2019 (Courtesy of VOA)

Just how did Ecuador get to be the entry point of choice for illegal extra-continentals? Todd Bensman, writing in the Center for Immigration Studies website on September 3, tells the story.

In 2008, leftist President Rafael Correa declared an end to the “20th Century invention of passports and visas” in the name of “universal citizenship” and lifted all visa requirements for anyone in the world to enter Ecuador without permission.  His successor, current president Lenín Moreno, has continued the practice and Ecuador has since become a destination of choice for Iraqis, Pakistanis, Syrians, Iranians, Chinese, Indians, Africans, and many others, while providing a boon to human smugglers willing to take their charges north toward America.

Bensman reported in July that “tens of thousands” of extra-continentals were currently en route from Ecuador with the U.S. as their final destination.

Yet Bensman suggests in his September 3 piece that the Trump administration may be pressuring the Ecuadorian government about its role in encouraging this human smuggling racket. He says that recently Ecuador has, without fanfare, announced a new visa requirement for citizens of Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iraq, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Sri Lanka.  That suggestion is merely conjecture at this time, he emphasizes, as both governments have remained mum on the subject.  Nevertheless, the U.S. has threatened cutoffs of foreign aid to Ecuador before, and the Trump administration is known to be pressuring Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries in a similar way.

These diplomatic efforts have been largely under-reported but do seem to be having an effect as illegal border crossings have slowed appreciably in recent months. We can only hope that President Trump keeps up the pressure so as to eventually shut off the flow.

For more, see the Bensman article at the Center for Immigration Studies website.

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