Mahira Dasgupta, Al Jazeera, makes notes on the harsh journeys of illegal immigrants trying to find a better life in the United States of America.
Illegal migration is prevalent throughout the world with many countries being origin, transit and destination points. People cross borders and continents for many reasons but the principle reason behind illegal migration is people searching for a better life. Whether it be for themselves or their families, people cross borders in search for better opportunities away from violence, natural disasters and conflicts.
The Americas in particular is an amalgamation of developing and developed countries. Thus the Mexico-US border is an opportune place for anyone hoping to gain entry into the US. But for most immigrants the journey does not begin here; Southern Mexico is provides access into US for many people seeking entry from Latin America. From here begins a dangerous journey into the US.
Due to increasing security at the borders it is becoming tougher and tougher for someone to go alone. There is an increasing number of organized criminal groups that exploit the helpless migrants. Then, these people are put in cramped buses or boats so that the smugglers can increase their cargo for maximum profit.
At the first sight of trouble, these smugglers are infamous for abandoning the people. If at sea, they are known for pushing people out of the boat if they sense authorities. In fact, people have been found at an uninhabited island without any provisions waiting for their smugglers to return.
This smuggling causes many people their lives but it also generates billions of dollars for organized crime. The amount that people risk just to able to get into more developed countries just goes on to show that it is their last desperate measure to secure a life worth living for themselves. Murder, torture and rape are just some of the possibilities.
One in five aspiring migrants is female and more than sixty percent of them are subjected to sexual assault. Mothers are threatened with their children. Many people consider this to be just another price to pay; another way to threaten their families for further payment.
Illegal migrants are the new mules of drug lords. They are forced to carry drugs across the border. With a gun to their head refusal will surely result in death. The migrants are often in debt to these gangs and are forced to continue to serve them even if they may not want to.
Risking imprisonment or even death in the country that they risked everything to live in.
They do not simply disappear once they have reached the US. If they came with the help of a gang they will most likely be able to get past the authorities if they have made it this far. Otherwise they do seek the authorities for some sort of humanitarian aid and if they can get in touch with a lawyer it is more likely that not that it is granted.
Illegal immigration has grave societal and economic impacts. Firstly there is no guarantee that the family members will reach their destination. Many people die on the way and at times their families do even know if they are dead or alive. They just stop communicating, and members never know their fate.
At the same time, sending people often puts the family in debt. This has a huge negative impact on economy by taking away laborers and at times even highly skilled workers. Family members also risk their only means of financial support. This also has a damaging effect on patrilineal family structure that is characteristics of all families in Latin America.
The US has taken steps to strengthen border security. In Obama’s own word, the US border security is better than ever. This pushes people towards the dangerous parts of the border just making them more and more vulnerable. It has a negative impact on US’s economy as well.
People who are not actively contributing to the economy benefit from all that the government does to improve the lives of their own citizens. It increases poverty levels and crime rates and like I said before it also facilitates the movement of illicit drugs into the country.
Thus it is important for all nations involved to take strict action against illegal migration and all related crimes. I believe that it is especially important to deal with the smuggling of people across the border as that is much more dangerous for the people.
However, the decisions cannot be too drastic as it is important to remember that human lives are at stake. In the midst of all this, it is of prime importance to not lose sight of the issue in its totality.