Microcredit banks, also known as "poverty banks," lend money to the poorest of the poor, many living on less than $1 a day. The small loans allow borrowers to buy a few animals or food-making equipment or a sewing machine — something that can make a significant difference in income.
The notion that microcredit can reduce illegal immigration is only a theory, but it makes sense. If Mexico's poor are given the opportunity to earn a living at home, they are less likely to illegally enter the United States.
"It seems to me, it's the poor who immigrate — at least illegally. The middle class and wealthy don't talk about coming to the United States," said Marshall Saunders, a San Diego retiree who founded Grameen de la Frontera in 1999. "To have a chance of stopping illegal immigration, or at least slowing it down, people in Mexico need to have a good economy." [U.S. could reduce illegal immigration by thinking small, Arizona Daily Star 11/3/06]
For his creation of microloans and the Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus was recently bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, microlending will likely receive more attention in the next little while, particularly when the award is formally presented in Oslo December 10.
For example, PBS' Frontline/World recently had a segment about microloans in Uganda. The Oct. 31 broadcast also highlighted a program through the Kiva.org group by which an individual may provide a microloan to entrepreneurs in the third world.
The important message is that there is better way to help the planet's poor billions beyond the failed leftist approach of rescuing a small handful through immigration to the first world. Permissive immigration may assuage the do-gooder crowd's liberal guilt, but is actually harmful to countries like Mexico by encouraging corruption and discouraging development.
And on a planet of over six billion souls, the huddled masses cannot all come here.