Right now, in countries throughout Central and South America, families are desperately saving up money.
They are foregoing all but the most basic and necessary food and water, working double or triple hours and wear clothes which have already succumbed to wear and tear, all for one purpose.
They want to be smuggled into the United States. Smuggling illegal immigrants from these regions into the United States is a big business. So-called ‘coyotes,’ human smugglers who excel at moving people across the border, charge thousands of dollars a head.
The trip is inherently dangerous, full of risk and uncertainty. The smugglers may be untrustworthy, and it’s not uncommon for human traffickers to lure people into the slave trade with the promise of a new life in America. Drug cartels rule the routes and murder with impunity.
Police forces are also on the lookout, especially at the border itself, and will happily extract as much money as possible from a victim before sending them back to where they came from. Even once the immigrants arrive in America, they are not safe.
Criminals and gangs feed off of weary migrants, forcibly recruiting men and boys and extracting steep protection fees. Many of these threats apply to all illegal immigrants to the United States as well.
East Asian immigrants, the second largest group of illegal immigrants, and Eastern Europeans also have to hire professional human smugglers, criminals who could just as easily be slavers or murderers.
The thing is, the illegal migrants know all of this. They aren’t under the illusion that the trip is easy or safe, and they only hope that they will arrive safely and unmolested. Despite knowing these risks, though, they keep trying.
If this isn’t indicative of how terrible and unhappy their lives are at home, then nothing is. Clearly, these immigrants are not coming to America on a whim, but out of sheer necessity. Making the situation worse is how many of these immigrants are unaccompanied minors.
Parents are willingly sending their children on this long and perilous journey, solely because of how awful their life is in their native land and the potential of America.
In many ways, the United States is a promised land, offering clean water, education and jobs. These immigrants aren’t a threat either. Although it is certainly true that criminals cross the border, only a small portion of illegal immigrants are arrested for criminal acts.
Most simply want to survive and maybe even thrive. They take low-paying jobs that no American citizen would or could take.
They accept pay far below minimum wage, meaning employers can expand their operations without incurring the costs otherwise entailed by hiring. They do the hard, sweaty, nasty work most Americans consider beneath them.
The only problem: residing in the U.S. like they do is illegal. The police, border patrol and other law enforcement agencies are wholly within their rights to deport them, sending them back to a life of misery and poverty.
Yet, laws are malleable. Congress can change the laws, allowing more immigrants into the country and making it easier to enter. Immigrants are a powerful positive force for the economy, and they are fleeing from terrible conditions.
Why shouldn’t we welcome them with open arms, rather than spending tens of billions trying to keep them out?