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Stopping Deaths at the Border

Mexican and Central and South American immigrants now have virtually no legal way to enter the country, and choosing the wrong path in the desert regularly leads to death from heat exposure.

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Mexican and Central and South American immigrants now have virtually no legal way to enter the country, and choosing the wrong path in the desert regularly leads to death from heat exposure. So they contract with “coyotes” to help them cross the border. Mexican crime syndicates frequently control these coyotes, and these syndicates also engage in kidnapping and drug running. Needless to say, these syndicates, like all crime syndicates, are extremely violent and are only in the business of getting every dime they can out of immigrants.

The solution is to couple a secure border with a highly regulated way for immigrants to enter. If immigrants believe they can enter the United States legally, they will do so, even if it means waiting for a period until a visa becomes available. People risk their lives because they have to under our current policy—not because they want to.

It doesn’t have to be easy to enter the country under a new comprehensive policy. Background checks, strict documentation, and a requirement that taxes be paid on all income earned make sense. Labor groups have suggested tying levels of annual immigration to the job needs of specific industries, while business representatives are concerned that entire industries such as agriculture are at risk without a clear way for their labor force to enter the country legally. Reasonable people relying on data can work all of this out.

But we are not relying on data in our current immigration system, nor do we appear to be concerned about human life. Right now, our border policy is based on sound bites from politicians who are willing to see innocent men, women, and children die because it serves their re-election goals. If we want to end these deaths and deal a blow to the crime syndicates south of our border, it’s long past time for a new border strategy.

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