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.'”




Polish Diaspora: As Poles are taking advantage of EU’s single employment market, employers at home find that they need to import labor from other parts of Europe. Another situation in which economic growth really benefits those with moderate education (see the U-Curve below).

This is the “second” Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the largest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty. But in Poland, this huge movement of people has created a labor shortage so severe that the government may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving in January from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply.

[One] factor in the unemployment rate is the mismatch between jobs and workers. Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw, says that Poland’s education system failed in the 1990s to train enough skilled workers, including engineers and craftsmen. “The trendy professions were marketing and services, not focusing on vocational or technical skills,” Ms. Iglicka said. “Vocational and technical schools were closed, teachers were made redundant. We are now paying the price.”

So critical is the shortage of welders and shipbuilders for Poland’s shipping industry that Poland and Germany are close to an accord that would allow unemployed workers from northern German ports to work in Poland.