Trouble Brews in America, Part 2

Migrants are sweeping through Central America and Mexico, seeking a new life in America. How do we deal with it when it becomes a crisis?

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PETER MICAH HADEN

“Migration has been an essential part of humanity. People have always migrated. But it has had different characteristics in different places, but migration has always taken place because people have the freedom to look for better conditions. It has always been.” – Padre Alejandro. “As long a there is poverty in our country, as long as there is hunger, this need to migrate will exist. People will continue to come, they will continue to arrive.” – Mario, Guatemala.

Previously, we discussed the ongoing issue of mass migration from Africa into Europe. However, it is not just Europe who is receiving the massive waves. We have our own immigration crisis in our own backyard. 

States such as California, Texas, and New York have some of the highest populations of illegal aliens in the United States. The majority of them come from Latin American countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and more. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 2% of the entire American population is illegal—and over half come from Mexico alone.

When the Cato Institute published a study discussing the crime rates in Texas of native-born Americans, illegal immigrants, and legal immigrants, they found that illegals had a higher crime rate than their legal counterparts by a factor of 247. Out of 100,000 people, the crime rate for illegals was 782, while it was 535 for legal immigrants. This begs the question: what should be done about the migrant crisis?

Pew Research found that only 16% of the adult population in the United States is Latino, coming from places such as Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and more. And yet, they make up nearly a quarter of the prison system. Multiple solutions have been put forward to solve the migration crisis. One of them is to tighten Mexico’s security. In 2018, Mexico accounted for 11.2 million immigrants in the US alone. While immigration is great for those who need it, some people do not have such a rosy view.

Throughout 2019, anti-immigrant rhetoric flooded Facebook that was spearheaded by extreme Trump supporters. Most of the ads called for harsher anti-immigration laws and the titular “Build the Wall!”, citing that it was an “invasion”. The relaxed and seemingly nonexistent presence of Mexican police or armed security when dealing with illegal immigrants going to the United States is a contributing factor, and is one of the key issues that anti-immigration rhetoric targets the most.

On the contrary, staunchly pro-immigration groups have rallied from New York to L.A., denouncing Trump’s policies and the hateful backlash it generates. As the two groups clash over their ideas of how immigration should be handled, one group is caught in the crossfire: the migrants themselves. Seemingly pulled in two different directions between people who love them and people who hate them, a less permanent solution has been set forth: camps.

Thousands of migrants awaiting residency in the United States are camped at the US-Mexico border, under surveillance and causing a humanitarian crisis. The policy started under president Trump, but since the election, has become a problem for Biden. Children as young as 6 years old have been found, wandering throughout the area, unaccompanied by adults.

Many of them are stuck in Matamoros, a city in northern Mexico by the border. Most of them are either sick, injured, pregnant, or extremely weary. So many have entered or are trying to enter that large shelters have been set up to house them. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on things as the focuses of the government have shifted to the epidemic. Having to brace frigid winter storms and a searing summer sun, a fix should be found quickly. Thankfully, Biden announced plans to revamp the immigration system, which might just be their lucky break.

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) found that after Mexico, the country with the second-highest amount of immigrants to America is India, with over 2.5 million in 2019 alone. As with most other migrants, they are coming for a better life and better opportunities. As per usual, these groups have also been targeted by slander by others. China is next, followed by the Philippines, then El Salvador, and more. While most are peaceful and looking for a new home, not every case is innocent.

Hans von Spakovsky documented that a quarter of all arrests for illegal narcotics were done by illegal aliens. Moreover, the state of Texas found that undocumented migrants were solely responsible for over 20,000 assaults, 14,000 thefts, nearly 7,000 sex-related crimes including sexual assault and rape. As dissatisfaction about keeping migrants in sanctuary states grows, the responsible, honest, and hard-working migrants get the short end of the stick as they are lumped in together with the illegal and criminal ones.

A resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment and political unrest in both the United States and Europe alike are contributing factors into the public feeling of slow burn about migration. OECD notes that even though migrants make up a small percentage of the population, they account for a large chunk of the crime and incarceration. While OECD’s view is up for debate, one thing is not: migrants are finding new ways to enter the United States.

In 2010, America was hit with a wave of illegal immigration done in a way that we were not prepared for: sailing. The main area in which migrants dock their ships and land is an area of water from Tijuana to Los Angeles. They use a model of boat known as a “panga”, which is used to smuggle in objects, illegal drugs, or people. The issue has become so severe in southern California that Orange County, Ca., has set up a boat patrol around Los Angeles’ coastline.

What happens next for the migrants is something that we will have to wait and see. As the western world braces for a new wave of illegal immigration, the infighting amongst each country’s own citizens seems to counteract anything done. Each country shares the same lesson: we must learn to take the good with the bad, and immigration is no different.