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The problems created by waves of illegal immigrants leaving Mexico for the United States are very real. Every succeeding year sees an increase in the amount of those caught while trying to cross. One must ask why does such a wealthy developing country, with mineral resources and oil reserves, and a population of nearly 100 million people and a rich culture dating back to the 1500s, need to have economic and social difficulties that force such a large exodus every year? And why does the established government of Mexico seem incapable of solving this issue? Border agents called Federal Prevention Police have proved inadequate in stopping the flow of Mexicans going north. The 700 lawmen posted along the border have done little to break up the polleros or border-traffickers. The United States has thousands of Border Patrol agents stretched along the entire U.S.-Mexican border and Mexican border towns have extra police stationed at strategic points to curb the flow. But many people making the crossing die in the attempt; mostly due to exposure but some are outright murdered. Vigilante gangs have formed in many southern states hunting down illegal Mexicans, and local Militia groups have also contributed to the violence done to those apprehended entering the U.S.
Those caught by the police agencies are lucky indeed. However, more than 320,00 make it across by eluding the authorities on both sides of the border every year. Many of these unfortunates meet a deadly end. Last year 356 died trying to enter illegally. The perpetrators are rarely caught or punished. (Immigration-Mexico P.1,2) The people coming across illegally do not do so for free.
An illegal crossing comes at a price. And many smuggling rings operate on both sides of the border. The illegals have paid money either to a pollero or to the local police or both. Currently the price to cross ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 for a ride into the U.S. Many are caught and sent back. There are daily news reports of aliens being caught.
They are smuggled across in car trunks, in railway cars, and in secret compartments inside of trucks. Recently agents stopped a tractor-trailer that had 103 immigrants inside. They were heading for the Northeastern states where the prospect of finding jobs and cover was better. And they were apprehended only by a fluke. An attendant saw a large number of people near a truck and he tipped the border police. How many other trucks made it through that day is anyones guess.
(CS News,INS P.1) The United States Border Patrol uses electronic sensors and television surveillance of border areas along with dogs and more established methods of border control. There are seismic detectors placed everywhere. But when one area of the border becomes too difficult to cross because of the security the illegals simply just start crossing in another area that is less secure. The numbers continue to increase annually because of Mexicos economic recession. (Branigin P.1) The border agents jobs are not easy and the work never ends. Nerves and emotions are put to the test. Mexico has accused the U.S.
of unnecessary violence in the beating of illegal aliens and in the murders of others by U.S. ranchers and vigilante groups in Texas and New Mexico. There has been much news about these events. Recent television video footage taken by helicopter has shown deputies clubbing unarmed aliens while arresting them. The U.S. has investigated and declined officially to press charges against its agents.
(Reuters, Mexico Protests) In rebuttal a Mexican activist has offered a $10,000 bounty on anyone that succeeds in killing a U.S. Border agent. This politico heads a group called Citizen Defense Committee and has stirred anti-American feelings in his country. The Justice Department is investigating. Meanwhile the violence continues. An agent shot dead an illegal immigrant trying to flee near Brownsville, Tx. in May this year furthering the tension.
Mexicans have hired a law firm to seek damages from vigilantes injuring and killing illegal aliens. (Assoc.Press, Mexican Offers)(C/S News, U.S. Probes) The risks of illegal crossings do not undermine the attempts of the fallecidos (fallen ones) that come from all over Mexico. Hundreds have died in car and truck accidents and of dehydration and exposure in desert and mountainous parts of the Southwest. Some attempt the crossing in winter across snowy mountain ranges. Most do not bring provisions or water or even maps; and nearly all know very little English. The U.S.
Border Patrols more aggressive efforts have forced them to take unsafe paths across. Facing jail time if caught, a border-trafficker will most likely try to outrun a police vehicle that attempts to stop him for a search. There are many high speed chases that end in tragedy. (Gotlieb P.1) The deportations of illegals caught entering the U.S. are at an all time high. The smugglers that run the rings bringing people across are sent to prison if caught, but the aliens are simply taken back to Mexico.
Many attempt the crossing again and again until they finally make it. Recently swarming has begun at certain border points. Here the coyote (smuggler) brings hundreds of people to a border point that has several dozen agents on the other side and on signal the entire crowd bolts across. Not everyone makes it but many manage to elude the agents. (Gotlieb P.2) The people that manage to get across the border do not always have the cash to pay the smuggling ring. They are able to make arrangements to work off their passage by either smuggling drugs or by giving up a portion of their wages once they reach a safe destination. And why do they keep coming? (Gotlieb P.3) The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is partly responsible for the now ever increasing larger numbers of Mexicans crossing illegally.
NAFTA created new jobs in the export sector of Mexican industry while destroying the domestic industrial sector. Family farms were lost and perhaps a million became unemployed since 1992. (Gotlieb P.3) Climate changes have also contributed to an economic downfall. The region of Mixteca has suffered erosion as heavy rains cause by El Nino stripped large portions of farm land. Nothing could be grown as the fields would no longer support agriculture. Entire villages have become near ghost towns as people left to seek work that did not exist elsewhere.
Those unable to find work ended up going north in desperation. And this is a terrible plight for the Mexican whose cultural traditions honor family and home. Many families are now left with only the youngest to care for while the older members have gone north.(Gotlieb P.3) What about the people that do not wish to leave? Mexicos debt and recession has contributed to a lower standard of living to those who have jobs. The middle class is getting smaller and less wealthy. Currently the country pays $2 Billion per month to the world bank, a staggering figure for a third world power. The countrys banks can not compete with the foreign banks and inflation runs away at times.
This year the peco has dropped 35% already and shows signs of being devalued further. The $40 Billion Mexico received in loans when NAFTA was implemented in 1992 has long been eaten up. In the past the nation has always defaulted on loans, and this seems to be the case now again. The Mexican government runs on a system of graft and payoffs long established and is in many ways corrupt; although there have been recent small efforts to change brought about by bad press. The average Mexican worker is adversely affected by all of this. And since the middle class in the country have not been established very long historically; for many the answer to escape this bind is going north. (Copher) In northern Mexico, particularly along the Maquiladoras, are hundreds of assembly plants created because of NAFTA. Here tax free parts of all sorts are manufactured for export.
Many familiar companies thrive here such as Campbell's Soup, Heinz, General Motors, Chrysler Corp., and others. The Mexican worker landing a job at one of these factories does not become financially independent. The benefits are nonexistent. The hours are long and the wages are low. Many live in company owned tenements and buy on credit from company stores. Safety standards for workers are lower than in the U.S.
and injuries are high from work related accidents. But this part of Mexico is surging with investment as foreign companies, most from the U.S., continue building plants to take advantage of free trade and cheap Mexican labor. The workers here are close to the border, and many are aware of the new financial opportunities that await them once they have enough money to make the illegal crossing north. (Economist, Mexicos New Frontier) People are always motivated by a desire to improve their lifestyles, and as long as conditions in Mexico are such that this is impeded, the wish to come into the United States will always be foremost in their minds. I do not believe that the problem of people leaving the country can ever easily be solved. The State Department has issued quotas limiting the number of those able to enter legally, and therefore, the only other avenue left for these people is to enter illegally.
Mexico has a long history of difficulties; adapting to problems and illegal crossings are only one of them. The nations debt contributes to inflation, and the worker becomes the underdog in a struggle to maintain a basic standard of living. One can not blame these people. They are looking for a better life. The problems of illegal immigration are not going to be stopped by the intense efforts of the U.S. and Mexican border agencies, at least not in this generation.
Basically the reason for this issue is economic. One can believe that once the financial problems are resolved the problem will disappear. There is little hope of this happening soon. As long as NAFTA exists there will be job displacement and unemployment in Mexico. New regulations will not help as it has already been proven economically that in free trade there are winners and losers. As long as the debt continues to skyrocket, inflation will continue. And as long as the Mexican government officials rely on a system of bribery and corruption as the means of doing everyday business, very little will change and regardless of what laws are enacted, little will be done to stop this exodus of people. Illegal immigration into the United States will continue. As long as these desperate people have hope they will look to the north for salvation. Works Cited CompuServe News @ Compuserve.com, June 14,2000, Immigration-Mexico: More Police Sent to Northern..., taken from internet address: http://compuservenews.com/adpstory.asp?&n&mo/illeg alimmigrants&id-55633624&dt-200006132003-061800 Gotlieb, Stan, April 30,2000,Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Stan Gotliebs Letters from Mexico, at Mexico Connect, taken from internet address: http://www.WashingtonPost.com/postmexicanletters/S tanGotlieb/letters/mexican mes.
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