Illegal Immigration to the United States
The US border with Mexico has become a meeting place for legal or illegal immigrants, who are trying to enter the United States every day. With each Mexican economic crisis, waves of waves of immigrants try to cross the 5,000-km border illegally, forcing Americans to create a systematic surveillance system.
These are mainly “ braceros ”, unskilled labor that goes to the USA in search of temporary work. There are, in the USA and Mexico, labor trafficking networks, exploiting the condition of dependence on illegal migrants, with practices that range from the issuing of false documents to the compulsory payment of fees to their “protectors”.
The border between the two countries is currently one of the clearest boundaries between the rich and the poor world. In almost all this border strip, there is a wall interspersed with sections of barbed wire, controlled day by day by the American border guard and sophisticated electronic systems whose objective is to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the United States at all costs.
Causes and consequences of illegal immigration
Every day, thousands of people attracted by the wealth of the world’s largest economic power, try to cross that border in search of new life. Those who cannot, remain in the region waiting for a new opportunity.
This situation generated a real “demographic explosion” in northern Mexico, since in addition to the Mexicans themselves, crowds from almost all of Latin America are heading there. This situation generated huge pockets of poverty that are nothing due to the Brazilian slums. A similar situation is repeated, to a lesser extent, on the North American side, as is the case of McAllen (Texas), considered the city with the worst poverty rates in the entire United States.
If the current pace of immigration to northern Mexico is maintained, analysts predict that in about 25 years, more or less 40% of Mexicans will be living in the states located along the border strip. Currently, almost 20% of Mexicans live in the region. In 1990, they did not reach 15%.
This expressive demographic growth is also explained by the fact that it was in this area that, in the last decades, almost 2 thousand factories of North American companies were installed, taking advantage especially of the low remuneration of the Mexican labor force. Known as “ maquiladoras ”, these factories are located in Mexican cities along the border with a “twin” city on the other side of the United States. In general, the maquiladoras work as follows: on the Mexican side are the assembly lines and on the other side of the border, the administrative sectors.
There are “twin” cities along the entire border, such as El Paso (USA) and Ciudad Juarez (Mexico), Laredo (USA) and Nueva Laredo (Mexico) among others. The creation of jobs by maquiladoras and emigration to the United States appear as alternatives to improve the income of the poor population.
The growth of maquiladoras also contributed to the formation of a dynamic industrial region in northern Mexico, an activity that previously was almost exclusively concentrated in the central region of the country.
Each day about 1 billion barrels of oil, 400 tons of pepper, 240 thousand light bulbs cross the border from Mexico to the United States, in addition to US $ 51 million of pieces of all kinds.
Drug trafficking and trafficking in immigrants
The border is also a band of geopolitical tension due to the trafficking of drugs, arms and illegal immigration flows.
Hidden in fake funds from trucks, pickups and vans travel tons of drugs banned by law, shoes made with the skin of endangered animals, weapons of all kinds, in addition to heroin, marijuana and cocaine. The fight against drug trafficking cartels is one of the central points of relations between Mexico and the United States.
Trafficking in illegal immigrants has also become a national security problem in Mexico. Its “trade”, which generates about US $ 5 billion a year, is controlled by mafias with branches all over the world.
The “guides” of these illegal immigrants, known as coyotes , even charge $ 5,000 per crossing. In the past two decades, not a few immigrants have lost their lives in an attempt to reach the United States. Although some of them are captured by the US border police and sent back to Mexico, estimates indicate that about 1 million illegal immigrants pass through the border each year.
Among other factors, this is why the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) only refers to aspects of free trade between member countries. At no time does it suggest the free movement of people. ”
The risks and consequences of illegal crossing
Wealth, health, well-being, etc. These are the factors that attract illegal immigrants to the United States. Mainly, from Mexico and Latin countries. But is that what they find there?
A desert, a river, a strong police on the border, very hot during the day and very cold at night. If they manage to survive all of this, they will have to go through jobs that can be abused of all kinds, usually of low remuneration, heavy work and even a longer working day than allowed.
Scenes from the soap opera “America” showed all this suffering. But, not always in real life there is a happy ending, as in soap operas:
“Generally, immigrants die on the border or are captured. Several people spend around R $ 30,000 to make a trip that will go nowhere and still try again. ”
It is too tempting for Mexicans, who, since the Americans chose to reinforce the Californian border, have moved to Arizona, where the border is poorly policed, creating a situation whose explosive potential is only now beginning to be assessed. In the absence of border guards, farmers in the region, irritated by illegal immigrants – who, they guarantee, cut fences, damage water pumps and leave garbage on pastures – took over the policing.
There are several stories of illegal immigrants who try to enter the country through Arizona and are killed by farmers. One of them, shot in the groin when approaching a farmer, begging for a sip of water, was abandoned in the desert, where he bled to death. One of the farmers, Roger Barnett, who owns an area on the border, went so far as to capture about 3,000 illegal immigrants in just 5 months. In Arizona, illegal immigrants cost border cities about $ 15.5 million a year in expenses with lawsuits involving charges of theft and other crimes.
The dangers, however, do not discourage job seekers in the United States, where the salary, even for those without documentation, can exceed $ 6 an hour, against $ 2 or less a day in Mexico. Today, one in nine Mexicans lives in the United States. Immigrants account for 31% of the unskilled labor employed in the country. More than half of the 2.5 million rural workers in the United States are illegal immigrants.
That is what so many Brazilians who come to the United States dream of: wealth, comfort, security or, at least, a job with a good salary. But it is death that many encounter along the way, as shown by an American border patrol commercial.
” There are many reasons to cross the border, none is worth more than your life “, preaches the commercial.
“ I left my wife, my two-and-a-half-month-old son, my mother, ” says a Brazilian.
“ We were cold, hungry, we were mistreated, very mistreated. I asked myself several times what I was doing there. Because after you get there, you see it. I had no need to be there. Going back was worse, ”says a woman.
These Brazilians had already crossed the border when we met them. Upon arriving in the United States, exhausted, they surrendered to the patrol and were arrested.
For 30 days, under a scorching sun, they crossed Mexico, passing through places infested with snakes.
“The woman was bitten by a snake, the coyotes had to murder her. And they asked her fiancé and the fiancé let them shoot her ”, reports the man.
For illegal immigrants, this is the last step before entering the United States: the border with Mexico. What separates them from the American dream is just a river. Less than 50 meters away here at this point. It is to cross it that so many Brazilians risk everything, including life.
More than 15,000 agents oversee the border. The entire length of the river is monitored by cameras and illuminated at night. Trucks entering the United States pass through here. It looks like a building, but it’s a gigantic x-ray device that reveals what’s behind even metal. It is to find out if there are drugs, contraband or immigrants in the cargo hold.
Patrollers who travel the river by boat are armed with M-16 military rifles. From time to time they have to face smugglers and drug dealers. But one of their main missions is to save people who fall into the river. Despite being narrow, it is quite deep. In a stretch they are 20 meters deep and in some points the current is very strong. Therefore, those who fall here are in serious danger of drowning. The cross on the edge is a reminder of that.
Every year, dozens of people are found killed by the patrol in this region. Patrollers go up and down the river in search of their favorite places to cross. In one section, they see signs. They find clothes, medicine bags, belongings left behind in a desperate attempt to enter the United States.
Throughout the region, the patrol installed sensors underground. When someone passes, the alarm goes off and immigrants are arrested.
The Brazilians that the newspaper met at McAllen’s bus station had already gone through all of this. They were waiting for a bus to a city in the northern United States. They had their passports seized and were released, on condition that they report to the court six months from now.
“Most do not show up. Then you start to be looked for. Then life gets even more complicated ”, says an immigrant.
They will lead the lives of fugitives. If they are found, they will be deported or go to jail. ”