Schemes


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.'”

 

 

(more…)

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Interesting phenomenon in immigration to Europe: the use of French overseas territories as  places of entry.  At a congress of French mayors, the mayors from overseas territories complained that they were being overwhelmed by clandestins (aka, illegal immigrants).  And their presence is affecting the public mood, raising hostility.  As one mayor put it:

There is a real sentiment of xenophobia developing in Guyana.  Until now, the people have respected the laws of the Republic.  But the day will come when they will take justice into their own hands.  It suits them to re-establish the authority of the state in the territories. [Translation mine]

Mayotte, among the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean, is particuarly overwhelmed, becoming a magnet for would be immigrants from the region.  Many of these come from the Comoros, an indepedent nation in the same chain of islands.  The Comorians, however, could work toward French citizenship by jus soli, their nation having once been part of France.  But they want to be able immediately to claim citizenship on the basis of birth, as the people of Mayotte have.  These municipalities, as well as those in Guyana and Guadeloupe, need more resources for the incoming immigrants; France offers only resources to combat their entry.

The Guardian reports on the industry that has grown around clandestine immigration from West Africa to Spain.  Areas of Senegal are becoming ports of call for Africans who, throwing caution to the wind, board flimsy vessels with the hope of reaching the nearest piece of European soil.

 Now the village [of Diogue] economy has found a new source of income: emigration. The hopefuls have to stock up on water, food and other supplies for the voyage, which can take two weeks. There are bargains to be had as the young men who are leaving sell anything they will not be needing where they are going – local currency is exchanged for euros at less than the going rate and mobile phones are dirt cheap. Many struggling fishermen have sold their pirogues to people-smugglers. But once the money has been spent, they find themselves with no way to make a living.

Africans are making harrowing journeys out into the ocean, hoping to find their way to the Canary Islands.  These trips are make-or-break propositions, costing a lifetime’s savings, and threatening lives themselves.

Forsten, Edward and Isaac are a little less fearless. They are from Ghana, but have been in Gambia for the past year, working on a building site to save the 400,000 CFA francs, the currency of Senegal and other former French colonies, charged for the trip to Europe (about £400).

All Forsten has with him is a half-filled plastic bag of his belongings. He is aware of the dangers of going to Spain in a pirogue, but he says that he has no choice – his life in Ghana is little more than a day-to-day struggle for survival, ‘and I can’t see that ever changing’.

Edward and Isaac managed to get on a boat leaving from Diogue, and were off the coast of Mauritania when a huge storm blew up. Everyone in the boat – including the ‘captain’ – was so terrified that they decided to head back to Senegal. Two people died in the course of the voyage from exhaustion and sickness. Their bodies were thrown overboard. ‘It was like we had become animals,’ Edward says afterwards. ‘I realised that it wasn’t worth degrading ourselves, and risking our lives just to get to Europe, even though it means the end of our hopes of finding a way out of the dead end we are in. There is no work for us back home.’ They know that the jobs they left in Gambia to go to Diogue will have been filled by others.

Not only have they lost their dream of a better life, Edward and Isaac have also lost the money that they had worked for a year to save up – the man who organised the voyage refused to reimburse them. Now they set off on the long journey back to Ghana. Isaac has a Spanish phrasebook tucked into his plastic bag. Will they make another attempt, once they have got some more money together? ‘When we were on that boat we saw into the pit,’ he says. ‘We were so tightly packed in there that no one could move. There were a number of us who couldn’t speak to anyone, because we didn’t share the same language. After the storm the supplies of food and water began to run out. Most of us had never been at sea before. We were ill and scared, and then the people started dying…’ His voice trails off. ‘I can’t describe how awful it was. Nothing is worth that.’

Read the article for more testimonials.

The new scare in France (as if polygamy weren’t enough) concerning immigrants is paternités blanches or paternités de papiers–false fatherhood, whereby undocumented immigrants claim to be the father of a child of a French citizen.

ON LES APPELLE les paternités « blanches » ou « de papiers ». Fictives, celles-ci se multiplient, permettant à certains ressortissants étrangers d’obtenir frauduleusement un titre de séjour. « Tout le monde peut reconnaître un enfant qui n’est pas le sien », souligne ainsi François-Noël Buffet, sénateur (UMP) du Rhône et auteur d’un rapport sur l’immigration. Il suffit de se rendre à l’état civil dans la ville où l’on réside, et de se déclarer père, quel que soit l’âge de l’enfant. Aucune preuve n’est réclamée à ce stade. « Mais, reprend le ­sénateur, les surprises commencent dès que l’on creuse un minimum. »

The right to claim paternity, easily done by filing with local authorities, is sold for 2-5,000 euros. By claiming paternity, a man in France illegally receives a pass to remain in country for ten years within two years, waiting three years less than if he married a citizen.

The rate of these filings is increasing dramatically.