Higher walls, more patrols–nationalist measures to problems of illegal border crossings are unlikely to be effective, more likely to warp the structure of immigration. A commentary by Guido Friebel and Sergeï Guriev in Le Monde describes how tougher border controls tend to push illegal immigrants into the waiting hands of organized crime rather than repulsing them.

Good news for you, [smugglers]! The western governments are trying to control immigration by organizing a battle against illegal immigrants. The voyage becomes more perilous. You become incontrovertible. And at their arrival, your stranglehold on the endebted illegal immigrants is stronger than ever before. If they attempt to escape, they will fall into the police dragnets. Their docility is much more likely. … Your invenstment is more likely to be profitable. [Translation mine]

Border enforcement drives up the cost of crossings. The potential immgrants, unable to pay, lose their independence to organized crime. Indeed, the poorer the immigrant, the more likely that he or she will be indebted to the smugglers.

Friebel and Guriev point to a second problem as well: concentrating on the border, the places where the labor of illegal immigrants is exploited are left unobserved.

So, how effective is tougher border security? With regards to illegal immigrants, probably not much. If they are caught at the border, fine. If not, they descend into a spiral of dependence that authorities pay no heed to. Organized crimes can only profit from this situation.

[The untranslated articles is below the fold.]

[ETA] The federal government seems already aware of this vulnerability among illegal immigrants.  Fearing that drug cartels will court them for the meth trade, the government is producing Mexican-style fotonovelas to dissuade immigrants from crime:

Fotonovelas — pocket-size picture books popular in Mexico — have gotten a California makeover that authorities hope persuades immigrant laborers to resist the easy-money temptation of the methamphetamine trade.

Thousands in the meth-plagued Central Valley have read the bilingual graphic-novel story of Jose, a farmworker who creates tragedy for his family by working for a drug ring. No Vale La Pena, or It’s Not Worth It, has inspired a Spanish-language docudrama, and police from Tennessee to Colorado have requested copies.

In Mexico, fotonovelas often illustrate life’s struggles through recurring characters, like the trucker with a heart of gold or the secretary trying to get ahead. Community leaders in and around Merced, about 130 miles southeast of San Francisco, saw them as an effective way to reach immigrant workers.

“We were trying to get that message across to a population that has a very low literacy level and that’s really isolated,” said public relations executive Virginia Madueno, who created the booklet. “So we thought, ‘Aha! A fotonovela.'”





I wouldn’t be the first one to note that illegal immigrants are being unfairly associated with terrorists, especially as those who support “border security” seems to target immigrants more than terrorists themselves, but here is a little proof: Texas law enforcement using anti-terrorist funds to nab the undocumented.

The reports show Operation Linebacker, the program one state security official called the “cornerstone” of Texas border safety efforts, caught suspected undocumented immigrants seven times more often than it apprehended criminals. Gov. Rick Perry and border sheriffs insist state border security operations are used to deter crime and terrorism, not to enforce federal immigration laws. Yet, the reports do not show even one terrorism-related arrest in six months.An El Paso Times analysis of reports from state border security operations shows that border sheriffs are using federal dollars meant to fight drugs and violent crime to enforce federal immigration laws. [Emphasis mine]

I’m sure some smarmy individual will say, “illegals are breaking the law,” but it still means that 7/8 of those apprehended are not involved in the drug trade or any other illegal activity other than being in the US without permission.

Even the claim that “you cannot, in many cases, conduct your own normal law enforcement duties without coming in contact with undocumented immigrants” should be treated with suspect. Good policing would target specific crimes and criminals; even if law enforcement randomly used these federal funds, would the ratio of illegal immigrants to arrests be so high? I doubt it. They simply do not make up such a high proportion of the criminal population.

An interesting side effect of the misapplication of funds:

Priests have reported drop-offs in church attendance, as some parishioners fret to leave their homes and risk being stopped at a checkpoint, turned over to Border Patrol and separated from their families.

Without a little religion in their lives, will they really remain upright?