By Allan Wall, April 21, 2020
During the past year, progress has been made on controlling the border with Mexico. That border had become a major thoroughfare for the illegal crossing not only of Mexicans, but of Central Americans, other Latin Americans, and even people from outside our continent.
We’re still not out of the woods, and a Democratic victory in November could set it all back, but at this point, real progress has been made.
Two big factors were the Trump tariff threat and the coronavirus crisis.
Last May, President Trump threatened Mexico with a tariff threat, if they didn’t reduce the massive quantity of Central Americans (and others) crossing Mexican territory to get to the U.S. border.
It worked. Mexico cracked down, and the flow was reduced – not ended, mind you, but reduced.
Kudos to President Trump, who used his foreign policy authority to improve the border situation. This was truly thinking outside the box.
Now we are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Governments all over the world are closing borders, cancelling flights and in general adopting adopting tighter policies of international movement.
That includes the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, which had become the principal sources of illegal immigration to the United States. Now even their own governments are closing their borders.
Also, the Trump Administration has issued an executive memorandum threatening countries who don’t accept their deportees back with visa sanctions.
That means if Country X won’t accept its deportees back, the U.S. will refuse to issue visas to people from Country X.
On the U.S. border with Mexico, the new coronavirus policy is in place in which the vast majority of attempted unauthorized border crossers are unceremoniously sent back to Mexico within two hours.
Hey, why didn’t we do this earlier? Well, better late than never!
As I say though, we’re not out of the woods yet.
Ever since the pre-coronavirus crackdown, people smugglers have been adapting to changes, as they always do.
People smugglers are those who guide illegal aliens across borders and into the United States.
Some of these individuals are ruthless criminals, having been known to rob, rape, or abandon illegal aliens along the way.
In Mexico, people smugglers are called coyotes (co-yo-tays), literally coyotes, and polleros (po-yer-os), from the Spanish word for “chicken”, meaning they cram their clients together in vehicles like chickens.
According to the Mexican media source Milenio, the people smugglers are adapting to the times. After all, they don’t want to lose their lucrative enterprise.
Milenio, relying on information from Catholic churches and migrant shelters, reports that smugglers have changed their routes through Mexico.
Another Milenio article reported that smugglers are charging more, as a result of the crackdown (which remember, began even before the coronavirus crisis).
Even pre-coronavirus, the cost of hiring a people smuggler was high, and it depended on how far you were going. Obviously, paying to go from Honduras to the U.S. border is going to cost more than starting inside Mexico.
For a Guatemalan, Salvadoran, or Honduran, it’s going to cost more than he makes in a year in his home country, so the cost is usually borne by relatives already in the United States.
And they’re paying a people smuggler who might victimize the migrants he is guiding, or abandon them.
It’s a dirty, dangerous, and predatory business.
The immigration situation in North America is a continent-wide disaster, and we need to reform it, for the good of our own country and for that of the migrants themselves and their countries.
This coronavirus crisis gives us the opportunity to do just that.
We have to be aware though, that there are those who profit off illegal immigration, including the people smugglers, and are not going to give up easily.
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