Startup Cities in Central America: A Long-Term Solution to Illegal Immigration?


The recent surge of undocumented immigrants from Central America has exposed gaping holes in our legal system. The New York Times reports that lawyers are restricted from meeting potential clients held in detention centers. There aren't nearly enough lawyers trained in handling these kinds of cases. And above all, what is to be done with the 46,300 unaccompanied children who were apprehended over the last ten months?

"We're very limited by, one, the short time that they're here and, two, the federal procedures," said Benny Agosto Jr., a Houston-based lawyer spearheading a task force created by the Hispanic National Bar Association to help migrants. "There is still the discussion over if the children should be brought to the front of the line. It depends on what federal judge, in what region you're in."

A short-term fix to American immigration crisis will depend on our legislators. But Honduras is looking much farther ahead, considering a radical solution that aims to permanently prevent the mass outflow of its citizens. As Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller puts it,

Some call it a Startup City or Free City, others a LEAP Zone, and in Honduran law it's known as a ZEDE. They are politically autonomous, privately run zones that supporters believe could transform not only Honduras, but the entire developing world.

Weissmueller's four-part video series, How to Grow a City in Honduras, examines the hopes and fears behind the birth of this bold experiment in governance. It was originally published on August 21st, 2014.