Monday, October 29, 2007

Shift Is Afoot on Mexican Border

This piece in the Wall Street Journal documents how undocumented migration into the U.S. is down but also how one of the unintended consequences is making smuggling an attractive new market for professional drug gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels with ties to the U.S.

It's frightening that this immigration-drug-cartel overlap means that many are paying for their trip by carrying drugs for traffickers—frequently heavy loads through the desert.

Immigrants also follow drug-smuggling routes for a fee, risking their own personal safety. Increased drug seizures are believed to mean that there's been an increase in drug smuggling into the U.S.

-Dra. Valenzuela

October 25, 2007

Shift Is Afoot on Mexican Border
Security Crackdown
Cuts Illegal Crossing
But Aids Smugglers

October 25, 2007; Page A8

EL PASO, Texas -- A security crackdown on the Mexican border is believed to have reduced the number of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. while increasing business for professional smugglers with ties to the drug trade.

Data to be released next week by the Department of Homeland Security are expected to show the number of illegal border crossers caught fell to less than one million for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the first time that has occurred since 2003. Through the end of August, barely 800,000 apprehensions were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border, a drop of more than 20% from the previous fiscal year.

The decline -- thought to show that fewer migrants are attempting to cross -- will add weight to claims by U.S. officials that heavier law enforcement is making it more difficult for migrants to sneak across the 2,000-mile border. With politicians deadlocked over how to deal with illegal immigration, trying to seal the border to catch and deter illegal immigrants has become the main policy tool.

But the crackdown also appears to be affecting the markets for smuggling people and drugs in Mexico. As tighter security makes crossing the border trickier and more hazardous, the traditional mom-and-pop operations in Mexico that used to ferry people across have been replaced by larger, more-professional criminal gangs, often with ties to the illegal-drug trade.

Read rest of story here.

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