Saturday, December 30, 2023

Illegal Immigration and America: Death by a Thousand Cuts?

Once again, a caravan of migrants are heading toward the U.S. border with Mexico. Just how many is a matter of debate. At present, the caravan has roughly 8000 men, women, and children. That number will change greatly as individuals and groups leave while others join. Some of the immigrants admit that their goal is to seek sanctuary in the United States while others want to stay in Mexico, at least for the time being.

Media outlets have (as usual) focused on the women, children, seniors, and handicapped with the aim of turning the event into a typical human interest story, which are great for ratings. The focus, as usual, is on the many hardships facing the migrants. There was a recent report about how migrants were "forced" to sleep on the ground using cardboard for mattresses over Christmas.

They also talk about the dire conditions of walking thousands of miles with essentially no shelter, scarce food or fresh water, little or no medicine except what they brought with them. Some are able to barter with other migrants or local residents for various necessities (toilet paper is always in high demand as are shoes and socks). Several charities have, however, been able to pitch in with donations along the way.

There was one story about a week or so ago where one of the leaders of caravan said that he wanted to bring the plight of migrants living conditions to the attention of the governments of Mexico and the United States. He went to indicate that expected the Mexican government to provide some humanitarian relief, despite the fact that the trip through Mexico is a violation of Mexico's immigration laws and border security.

From the tone of the interview, it seems that some among the migrants were expecting to be provided with air conditioned busses somewhere along their trek northward. In truth, they're lucky they haven't been forced back to Guatemala, where the caravan originated from or detained by Mexican Federales.

The Federales, or Mexican Federal Police are known for the "no nonsense" discipline and enforcement of the law in the same vein as the Texas Rangers or Canadian Mounted Police. There have been numerous reports of rouge elements taking advantage of the migrants through shake downs, rapes, physical beatings, and temporary jail time in one of Mexico's notorious rural jails. There's even been a few unsubstantiated reports of migrants travelling alone or in small groups being murdered.

Of course, there's also the ruthless drug lords to contend with. The route usually taken by migrants take them through areas controlled by various drug cartels, and you can be sure they'll have their hand out in typical gangster fashion---pay up for protection or face the consequences.

Some of the drug cartels offer to provide "coyotes" or guides through relatively safe areas into the United States. They're kinda like a cross between a Old West wagon master and the James/Younger Gang. These coyotes provide nothing more than their expertise as guides through some of the back roads and trails leading to the Mexican-U.S. border, and the best places to cross.

Caravans or individuals migrants moving up from Central and South America, may encounter as many as six different cartels ranging from Los Zetas and Sinaloa in the south to South Pacific Cartel, Juarez Cartel, Gulf Cartel, and the Sinaloa in the north (the Sinaloa cartel control the largest swath of territory in Mexico by far). The central portion of Mexico is largely open and highly disputed, which includes Mexico City.  However, that doesn't mean it's cartel free. Certain areas in central Mexico are run by smaller and non-aligned drug related gangs.

Being a coyote can be a pretty lucrative business. The average coyote charges around $1500 to $5000 per person to bring someone across the border. On any given night, they might move 500 individuals or more. A small operation might make anywhere from $780,000 to over $1 million dollars a year (and all tax free naturally). Large operations can see as much as a billion dollars annually.

A few of these coyotes might hook them up with other coyotes who operate on both sides of the border. These individuals will usually provide transportation once the individual crosses the border, in the form of car trunk or semi truck trailer, bound for someplace far away from border patrol agents.

Occasionally, for those short on cash to pay the coyote, there's a job of sorts waiting for the migrant at journey's end, albeit working in some sweat shop processing drugs or for the younger and more attractive women, a job turning tricks. Some may be tasked with running or warehousing drugs or whatever else the cartel needs. However, most choose to pay their fare and take their chances once they reach the border.

Various religious organizations (mostly Catholic) compete with the cartels for the last leg of the migrants journey into America. These groups ensure contact by advertising extensively in the border towns and communities along both sides of the border. They typically provide a means to contact them and the assurance of transportation once they reach the U.S. and promises of a warm meal and shelter complete with a bed and fresh linen, but it doesn't end there.

Many of these religious groups provide the newly arrived migrant with the kind of help they'll likely need, both legal and financial. They help migrants with completing the necessary forms (and correct wording) in their native language to gain at least temporary status in the U.S.. The current technique involves a plea for amnesty, which is typically given priority (especially if children are involved) and the best part is that not a lot of documentation is required, at least not initially. As an aside, amnesty doesn't apply if the applicant is merely seeking employment or better living conditions.

In addition, these organizations provide legal assistance with all mandatory hearings, and finding long term shelter, help with obtaining employment with businesses that don't ask a lot of questions. These are often in agriculture, farms (including horse racing tracks), hospitality, and construction. They provide aid in navigating the bureaucratic maze to obtain taxpayer paid medical care and school enrollment for their children (which can be in their native language with English never having to be learned...ever).

The cost to the U.S. taxpayer is in the multi-billions (in 2021 the estimate was $120 billion). So why do these groups do it knowing the financial burden they're putting on the already cash strapped Americans? The answer is simple. They sincerely believe they are above the law. Immigration laws, quotes, or whatever doesn't apply to them because they've convinced themselves that they're serving a "higher purpose" and they only have their faith to answer to. Seriously.

Of course, there is the "other" reasons which aren't discussed much, at least not openly. Many of these church based groups are looking to growing their numbers for a variety of reason, but it ultimately comes down to political and economic clout. The more members, the more money flows into their coffers. Secondly, they gain more direct and indirect influence; the kind that politicians pay attention to.

Secondly, since many of the members of these organizations are Democrat, they expect that once the immigrant becomes a citizen, they will repay the kindness by registering as Democrat, The flaw with this tactic is that most migrants are here to find a job. They have no interest in citizenship. They also tend to be fairly conservative socially which puts them at odds with Democratic ideology.

In addition, many of these migrants will end up in trades or industries which are organized. Labor union membership has long been spiraling downward since the 1960's with their core base---production---being sent overseas as a cost cutting measure by businesses. In addition, with more people attending college, many of these entry and low levels positions go unfilled.

The influx of immigrants, legal and illegal, helps to keep these jobs from remaining empty. Since these positions are mostly unionized, filling them pumps badly needed money into union coffers in the form of union dues.  Workers get decent pay, often with good benefits, safe working conditions, job security, and someone to go to bat with them if they need it.

It's far better than working for some dangerous sweatshop with no benefits, impossible lots, and pay so low its illegal. Working conditions are miserable and often unsafe (no air conditioning in the summer, no heat in the winter, no restrooms, etc). And if the boss says you're working 12 hours straight, you are, and there's little recourse. After all, the employer can (and will) hold your immigration status over your head. 

In 2022, some 2.76 million immigrants came north, mostly from Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, and Venezuela. They came for a myriad of reasons, from economic conditions (largely triggered by U.S. embargoes and sanctions) to government corruption and wars (many of which we underwrite). So far this year (FY2023), their numbers have been around 2.5 million.

However, U.S. and Mexican government authorities have reported seeing increasing numbers of mainland Chinese, North Koreans, and those from Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, as well as Kurds among the migrants. There is little doubt among government officials that intermingled within these groups are active terrorists. Last year, Mexican authorities incepted several individuals with terrorist connections hiding among the caravans. Most of those caught have been single, male, and of military age.  

The American People have been demanding for decades that Washington contain our southern border, yet nearly every attempt has been thwarted despite U.S. and Mexican officials agreeing that the migrant issue has reached critical levels.  President Trump's efforts to build a wall was meet with fierce        resistance, both in Congress and by the corporate controlled media. So, who is behind the push to keep the border open?

Ironically, one major cause for the influx of migrants is the media itself. According to one recent poll, 71% of individuals between ages 16 and 24 confirm hearing on media outlets rhetoric about the U.S. southern border being "open". They also hear that entry is easy and there are plenty of jobs. That's more than enough incentive for people living in poor economies like Ecuador or El Salvador. 

Powerful drug cartels and corrupt governments are taking advantage of the situation too. For politicians, it's a way to get rid of their poor by encouraging them to go north, thus saving millions in tax dollars. Drug cartels and independent coyotes can easily make millions or more guiding people northward, and of course, there's plenty of unscrupulous individuals along the way to take further advantage.

In the U.S., there are ample religious organizations and special interest groups who would like to see the southern border opened even further, especially among Hispanic communities. Hispanics are the second largest population in the U.S. and growing and they account for 14.3% of all voters (currently they vote Democrat by a 2:1 margin). Within the next 25 years, they will be on par with European whites and perhaps 30 or fewer years into the future, they'll likely hold a majority. This is why both of the corporate owned political parties are currying favor with Hispanics.

The debate over illegal immigration is, in many respects, already over. While the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) projects around 17 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., a study by Yale University says the number is closer to 22 million illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, those numbers grows daily thanks to so-called "sanctuary cities" who openly defy federal immigration laws while simultaneously demanding more federal tax dollars to cope with the influx of illegal migrants!  

With the growth of Hispanic influence, there will be changes unimagined by our parents and grandparents in the U.S.. While socially conservative and family oriented, politically they've tended to lean socialist and populist, but does that reflect America's political and social future?

Given that the U.S. has historically aggressively oppose anything socialist or populist to the point of overthrowing duly elected governments and installing juntas, it will prove interesting to witness. After all,  with a total population of 65.57+ million (13% of which being illegal), are hard numbers to ignore, even in the U.S..

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