It’s time to get realistic about this country’s immigration policy. Our current system has done nothing to stop illegal immigration. Instead, all it has done is put illegal immigrants in greater danger of being exploited, assaulted or even killed.
Hidalgo County, Texas, has recently seen two graphic examples of how U.S. immigration policies lead to exploitation and death for many attempting to enter this nation illegally.
A car packed with 10 people recently plunged into an irrigation canal near the city of Hidalgo, killing nine. Officials think the car was speeding down a dark road with its lights off to avoid detection when the driver turned too soon, heading off a bridge and landing upside-down in the narrow canal.
The victims couldn’t open the car doors to get out, and all but one drowned. Most of the people killed were from El Salvador.
Because of the difficulty to enter the United States legally, many immigrants take undue risks to avoid getting caught by the Border Patrol. Many end up losing their lives, all along the border.
For example, The Arizona Republic reported that at least a dozen undocumented immigrants died earlier this month as they attempted to enter the United States through the deserts of southern Arizona.
In Mission, Texas, on Aug. 6, Border Patrol agents acting on a tip found 64 suspected illegal immigrants crammed into an unair-conditioned three-bedroom home. The individuals — from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — had been there more than a week. The Border Patrol arrested three men, all from Mexico, in connection with the case.
Even more disturbing, court documents indicated some of the women might have been taken to another house, in McAllen, Texas, and forced to have sex. Although an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent said in court that the women stated they hadn’t been sexually assaulted, he testified that some immigrants did complain that one of the suspects beat them.
Because they are not here legally, undocumented immigrants are easy prey for unscrupulous smugglers, who can be confident their victims won’t turn them in. This reasoning also leaves illegal aliens vulnerable to dishonest employers who withhold paychecks, confident their workers won’t complain to the police.
Some people don’t have any sympathy for undocumented immigrants. “What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?” they smugly ask. Yes, these individuals broke the law. Still, an immigration violation doesn’t merit the death penalty, and it shouldn’t enable a criminal to abuse someone who’s here illegally.
More laws against immigrant human trafficking won’t deter immigrant smugglers, any more than our attempt to prohibit certain substances has any effect on the supply of illegal drugs.
The only way to stop human traffickers is to take away their profits, by making it easier for prospective immigrants to legally enter the United States. That way they would not have to turn to immigrant smugglers.
This means Congress has to reform our immigration system so that those who come to this country to work are able to do so, without risking their lives and without being exploited by smugglers or employers.