Human Trafficking Worth Billions

Published on May 22nd, 2011

Maria FotopoulosBy failing to effectively enforce U.S. immigration laws, our government essentially is supporting human trafficking. If that sounds outrageous, just read the May 19, 2011 article in the Sacramento Bee, “Truckloads of migrants a billion-dollar business,” and view the accompanying images of humans stuffed into semi-trailer trucks to be smuggled into the United States. The article describes how people are “packed tighter than cattle and transported like consumer goods,” with individuals paying between $7,000 and $30,000 for this dangerous passage. Smuggling humans across the U.S.-Mexico border, the article continues, accounts for annual “business” of $6.6 billion. Another $1 billion is estimated to be paid by people other than Mexicans to cross from Guatemala into Mexico on their way to an ultimate U.S. destination. Relatively new X-ray machines installed at southern Mexico checkpoints have helped nab two large migrant hauls, the most recent of which included two trailers with more than 500 people “valued” at $3.5 million. Most of the people in this haul were Guatemalan (an estimated 300 to 500 cross into Mexico daily), but there also were Chinese, Indians and Nepalese. “There are more and more people coming from all other regions of the world using the Central American and Mexican corridor to reach the North American market,” said Antonio Mazzitelli from the regional UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Another person quoted in the article said recent months have brought an increased number of illegal crossings to the north. Also according to the article, by 2006, smugglers were hired by 95 percent of Mexicans coming into the U.S. illegally. The illegal crossings crisis now is an unholy mix of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, extortion and gang violence. The path we’ve chosen to follow on immigration in this country has lacked moral authority for decades. By choosing to have understaffed, ineffective and often selective enforcement of our immigration laws, we have given human traffickers and others who ignore basic human rights the license to operate and profit in human suffering. If Americans want to claim any moral authority, we must act to secure our borders, enforce our laws and send a clear message worldwide that we have no tolerance for this abuse. We must govern and live by example, and the best example is creating a sustainable nation that other countries can follow.

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