Immigration Issues

The United States’ border with Mexico hasn’t always been an area of national concern. Back in the 1920s, the US Border Patrol was created to halt bootleggers bringing illegal liquor from Canada. Now, the Border Patrol has turned its attentions to the US-Mexico border. Why did this happen?

You probably thought about illegal immigration. Maybe you thought about stopping the flow of drugs. Both of those are things the Border Patrol is trying to stop. If you look at the map above, you’ll see they have to cover nearly 2000 miles of territory. If you know anything about that area, you’ll know it’s a dry, dusty, rocky, rugged region that is not kind to strangers.

All along the Texas side is the Rio Grande. As a river, the Rio Grande has many locations with shallow waters and slow currents, making them good locations to cross on foot or vehicle. The Arizona border is dominated by both the Rocky Mountains and the Sonoran Desert. To get an idea of how rough the country is in that area, the Spanish named a road that went through that area, “El Camino del Diablo,” or “The Road of the Devil.” There is very little water out there and temperatures can easily become dangerously hot on most days of the year.

The temperate areas of the border, near San Diego in California and along the lower Rio Grande in Texas, are also the most densely populated areas, where the majority of the 12 million people that live along the border make their homes. In fact, the cities of San Diego-Tijuana and El Paso-Ciudad Juarez are considered to be the two largest “international cities” in the world. Even though a border runs through them, they are almost as one, large urban area.

Where there are a lot of people, the Border Patrol has set up many fences and barriers to discourage illegal crossings. Some people do try to cross at those points, and they put their lives in danger doing so. When people try to cross in the more desolate regions, they also risk their lives. Many times, the Border Patrol has to rescue the illegal aliens before it can arrest them. Other times, people making the crossing die in the deserts.

The Border Patrol estimates that it has effective control of 700 miles along the US-Mexico border. While several hundred people die attempting to cross in the remote regions, about half a million people each year enter the US illegally along the US-Mexico border. Some officials in the Border Patrol have asked for additional people to man the border. While the Border Patrol employs 20,000 today, some would like to double its size so it can patrol the entire border more effectively. Not only are there times when Border Patrol agents have to pick and choose which illegal entrants to capture if a large group scatters in many directions, they also have to face increased organization among drug smugglers. One Border Patrol group was halted in its pursuit of a drug smuggler when it ran into a group of armed men in Mexican army uniforms.

Some state governors have ordered members of their state national guard units to assist in patrolling the border, but all of them look to the US government in Washington, D.C. for financial support for these operations. California’s current budget problems make it exceptionally eager to receive federal funding for its border patrol operations. Arizona went one step further and passed a controversial law that would enable its own law enforcement personnel to operate with powers normally granted to the federal Border Patrol. Governors of the border states point out that illegal aliens are a large drain on state budgets and that the expenditures on border control are balanced out by the savings in state programs.

Critics of stricter control point out that most illegal aliens work in the agricultural industries in the border states. The illegal aliens are typically paid much less than domestic or resident alien workers. If we eliminated illegal immigration in the US, then many agricultural businesses would either shut down or have to raise prices sharply in order to afford domestic labor. This would have a major impact on the US economy.

It would also have a major impact on the economy of Mexico and Central American nations, particularly El Salvador and Guatemala. Many illegal aliens send a large part of the money they earn in the USA back to relatives in their home countries, providing their relatives with the cash they need to keep going.

The USA does permit 700,000 legal immigrants each year, but that number is from all nations, combined. When immigrants cannot get awarded a legal entrance in the immigration lottery, many choose to enter illegally. They make this choice because they feel that their situation in their home country is much worse than what it could be in the United States.

Central American immigrants make the most terrifying journey of all, passing through parts of Mexico that are controlled by the Mara Salvatruchaa gang. The MS gang often robs, assaults, and murders immigrants from Central America. While the money and clothing they steal from each individual immigrant is small, they rob and kill so many that they are able to profit from their wholesale crimes. After passing through the gang country, the immigrants will travel north by hopping on trains. The two major train routes in Mexico follow its major mountain ranges: the Sierra Madre Oriental (Eastern Sierra Madre) and the Sierra Madre Occidental (Western Sierra Madre). Many immigrants are injured or killed as they jump on or off the moving trains. Finding food along the way is also very difficult. Mexico itself maintains a border patrol on its southern frontier in order to turn back these illegal entrants. Once in Mexico, the government will encourage them on their way north: the Mexican government even printed an illustrated guide on how to enter the US illegally and safely.

Once at the border, all the illegal immigrants are faced with a question of how to continue their journey into the USA. Once in the USA, they have to avoid law enforcement officers as they seek out jobs that often pay very little and that have unacceptable working conditions. They cannot speak out against their oppression for fear of deportation.

There is also a flow of US citizens into Mexico, although it is much smaller than the number of immigrants leaving Mexico and Central America for the USA. There are about 200,000 Americans living in Baja California, just south of San Diego, and that number grows each year. Americans choose to live in Mexico because the cost of living there is much less than in California, although because of their move to the region, the cost of living is increasing overall in Baja California.

When the US economy entered a recession in 2008, illegal immigration to the US went down by a large amount. When times are not as good in the USA, many people feel the risk of entering the US illegally is not worth the potential benefit. Improving conditions in Mexico and Central America also reduce the number of illegal aliens attempting to enter the USA. When the civil wars ended in El Salvador and Guatemala, for example, immigration from those nations decreased as people chose to stay in their homes as their lives improved. Nevertheless, the flow of immigrants from Central America and Mexico continues and the Border Patrol remains busy dealing with that issue.

5 thoughts on “Immigration Issues

  1. John Chang

    I find it hard to believe that many Mexicans try to cross the borders illegally in an attempt to find a better lifestyle. It is a question that truly bothers me because my mom knows some friends who came to New York illegally as well from China in fishermen boats all the way from the 1950s. The couple needs to send money to that person each month and I just continually ask myself “Why do people risk their life for this hardship?” Is it for a better lifestyle, is it to escape troubles found in their homeland? What drives people from different parts of the world to come to America, the Land of the Free? You rarely hear US citizens fleeing their mother country and then going to developing countries. So what DRIVES these newcomers into the United States? Finding jobs can be hard enough without a greencard or citizenship. Salary will me minimal because you are’nt even a citizen. Having panick attacks and being in the run from government officials and border control is also quite a pain. And with the economy stagnating, jobs for the illegals is even MORE hard to come by. So why do these people CHOOSE this life? It simply can’t be for a democratic lifestyle. It can’t be for a good paying job seeing how if you’re not a citizen and are illegal you won’t even get minimum wage. So what is the REASON the LOGIC behind the act of immigration? For all the other hundreds of thousands of Mexicans in Mexico, why if not ALL of them are coming to the US illegally? Why give up their homes, their friends, family, contacts, connections, and culture? Is it really worth it?

  2. Hanna Choi

    Some of the facts are new to me. I had no idea that people risked there lives to try and cross the border illegally from Central America to the United States. This fact does remind me of how people from the North Korea try to escape and risk their lieves in order to live in another place. Although the problem in North Korea is the government, that’s not the main thing the people are concerned about. The people of North Korea care about their living standards, which are for the most part, terrible. Likewise these people from the hispanic nations want to escape their countries into the United States to be able to live and not go too hungry. Why not risk your life to at least have the hope of living since your going to die working really hard to eat or not have food to eat at all?

  3. Hanna Choi

    Some of the facts are new to me. I had no idea that people risked there lives to try and cross the border illegally from Central America to the United States. This fact does remind me of how people from the North Korea try to escape and risk their lieves in order to live in another place. Although the problem in North Korea is the government, that’s not the main thing the people are concerned about. The people of North Korea care about their living standards, which are for the most part, terrible. Likewise these people from the hispanic nations want to escape their countries into the United States to be able to live and not go too hungry. Why not risk your life to at least have the hope of living since your going to die working really hard to eat or not have food to eat at all?

  4. Tayyaba

    I totally agree with the above article and John and Hanna. People cross borders illegally in order to make a better living. However, they risk their own lives, because it is not easy to become a resident of the other country right away. It takes a lot of effort and paper work to legally be a part of that country. Just like Hanna said, “how people from North Korea risk their lives in order to live into another place.” Same thing with Pakistan. People pay or come on any student or visit visas and then they stay here, which is totally illegal and not a wise decision to make. They stay here hiding from the cops and any immigration offices or securities. If they get caught, they get either punished for it or either just get deported and then they have just 1% chance of ever coming back again.

    I know people working, but since they are not legally living in the U.S., they don’t make enough money or get a job at a good place even if they are good educated, so why do people make decisions that will cause them trouble later on in life. If they get caught, they might be deported even tomorrow.

    Therefore, I believe, everything and every action we take should be done legally and in a proper way. Don’t let your freedom go away in order to come to the country that has freedom.

  5. lets b real

    not that my opinion counts.. there are several reasons why people would risk their lives to live here over their homeland. in some countries, the living conditions are dangerous as well as hazardous. there is NO food rations or any government programs to provide families with food. so, if you had a family with a wife and 5 children, or better yet, a widowed or now single mother with 3 children because your husband was murdered, gunned down in cold blood by drug cartel leaders or it’s employ, if the opportunity to flee from this impoverished dangerous situation in order to change your situation for the better, would you not sacrifice yourself to do so? tell me, if you can make half of minimum wage tax free dollars doing the work Americans refuse to do, like picking tomatoes in the hot sun for 12 hours a day with no breaks, especially when in 4 to 5 days work, you can make more money than what they make in an entire month in their homeland, and that is IF they have work at all there.?.?.?.? it is SOOO easy to get lost here. ALL but the native American INDIANS are immigrants! let us NEVER forget this startling fact! i say startling fact because so many do not appreciate the freedoms we enjoy everyday. we are ALL immigrants here! and, they are NOT the immigrants. They are the HUMAN beings that built this nation one brick at a time. enjoy the read.

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