A Beginning Look at the Illegal Immigration Problem

In this time of debate over immigration, I think it is appropriate to touch on the root cause of our illegal immigration problem. It is not only our porous borders, or our “golden opportunities” here in the United States. One significant factor of the problem can be traced directly back to Mexico City.

The corruption that has run rampant in Mexico for decades is driving their citizens out of their homeland. Not a month goes by without news of a major drug war or drug bust. It would be tempting to say that the Mexican government is making headway on their own counter-drug program since they keep making large drug busts. But if they are making such headway, why are there always such large drug busts to be made?

An article from the Washington Post of 20 Apr 2008, discusses the massive Mexican Cartel problems across the border from Columbus, New Mexico, in Puerto Palomas. On 17 Mar of this year, the entire police force of Puerto Palomas resigned and the Chief of Police, Perez Ortega walked across the border into Columbus to request asylum. Chief Ortega is currently in a detention facility awaiting a decision. When the drug gangs start fighting in Puerto Palomas, the Sheriff Raymond Cobos of Luna County, NM puts his entire force on alert. Victims with bullet holes in them are dropped at the border because their relatives are convinced that the US is the only place they will be cared for.

The problems across from Columbus are not isolated. All along the border, these stories are told and documented. The little town of Puerto Palomas was once a bustling tourist town of 12,000. In the last two years it has dropped to 7,500. Because of the violence people are leaving, including the police. The town has been able to recruit nine more officers and a new chief, but there is no telling how long they will stay.

We have heard that Mexico has one of the toughest immigration policies in the Americas, at least on its southern border. If it is so tough, how do the drugs get into the country, and why do most of the major drug busts take place within sight of the US border? How can the drugs that come in from South America traverse the entire length of Mexico undetected?
Well, the problem is that they do not traverse the country undetected. Drugs, primarily cocaine, come in by land, sea, and air into Mexico. They do not have to worry about importing heroin, methamphetamine, or marijuana. Mexico is one of the world’s leading producers of these three drugs.

There is also the problem of corruption in the Mexican armed forces. In many places the drug cartels operate with impunity. When there is the possibility of honest troops being present, the cartels’ intelligence networks issue sufficient warning. However, the cartels have become so powerful that in places they are openly defying the Mexican military.
All of the aforementioned drug cartel activity significantly contributes to a disastrous economy with little opportunity for economic gain and a very good opportunity for getting killed. Is there any wonder that the common Mexican wants to find a better, safer life? They are more than willing to brave the torturous Southwestern desert and the US legal system to find that life.
I see two positive actions that the Mexican government must do to even start to quell the massive flow of illegals into the US. First, by whatever means, they must shut down the drug industry. That includes production, transportation, and distribution. In all fairness, they may be attempting this, but we will likely never hear about it. Behind Columbia, Mexico has the second highest rate of journalist murders, in the world. There is doubtless no one who believes that the Mexican government will accomplish this feat anytime soon. The cartels are too powerful and the reputed corruption within the government is too rampant.

The second task is to create an environment where the average Mexican citizen can work for a living wage. Mexico is a land of vast resources which could be tapped to build an economic powerhouse if managed properly.

Please do not let my discussion give the impression that all of our illegal immigration problems rest squarely on the shoulders of the Mexican government and the cartels. This is far from it. Many of our national policies have been enabling factors in the problem.
When an illegal can walk into any hospital and receive free medical care, there is a problem. When illegals are given preferential treatment by a sanctuary city, there is a problem. When employers turn a blind eye to the illegal status of their workers, there is a problem. When the Social Security Administration is incapable of noticing that one social security number is used two, three, four, six, or eight times, there is a problem.

In this piece, I have concentrated on only one aspect of the illegal immigration problem. But as you surely know, the problem is vast and extremely complex. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant-future, I will take on other aspects of the problem, such as prosecutors that go across the Mexican border to retrieve a drug runner for the sole purpose of charging Border Patrol agents and sending them to do hard time for doing their jobs. (Sorry, I felt a new soap box coming out.)
As always, I welcome your comments/discussion.
Dan Lanotte

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