It’s true that the overwhelming majority of migrants detained at the border are Mexican, but it’s easy to understand why: Mexico shares a 2,000-mile-long border with the United States from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf, and with 112 million lives, dwarfs neighboring Guatemala, with a population of 14 million. Mexico is also in the midst of a drug war that verges on a civil war — the blood of criminals and the innocent spilt daily.
Yet, a growing trend in illegal immigration highlights a reality that’s normally overlooked.
From the Associated Press, via Fox News Latino:
“While the number of Mexicans heading to the U.S. has dropped dramatically, a surge of Central American migrants is making the 1,000-mile northbound journey this year, fueled in large part by the rising violence brought by the spread of Mexican drug cartels. Other factors, experts say, are an easing in migration enforcement by Mexican authorities, and a false perception that Mexican criminal gangs are not preying on migrants as much as they had been.
“Central American migration remains small compared to the numbers of Mexicans still headed north, but their steeply rising numbers speak starkly to the violence and poverty at home. The perils of the journey have pushed smuggling fees as high as $7,000, as much as double the earlier rates, for a trip that takes weeks, or even months for those delayed by robberies, health problems or difficulties finding transportation.”
Many Central Americans are finding it too difficult and too dangerous to live in their own countries, which forces them to make the perilous journey north to Texas — the quickest (and most dangerous) route through Mexico.
The deadliest nation, Honduras, has experienced the world’s highest murder rate since 2010 — making it deadlier than Iraq or Afghanistan (which, in case you haven’t heard, are in the midst of an actual war). In 2011, 86 Hondurans were killed for every 100,000 citizens, up from 82 in the previous year; in contrast, Mexico saw 18 of its citizens killed out of 100,00o inhabitants, whereas the United States only saw five.
The rise in violent crime throughout Central America is attributed to the fact that, in some sense, Mexico’s 5-year-old war on drugs is affecting the ability of narcotraffickers to operate in that country. Thus, places like Honduras have become a hub for drug smuggling activities, a new staging point between South American producers and U.S. consumers.
America’s high demand for illicit drugs makes the drug trade an extremely lucrative enterprise — one well worth all the risks associated with it. It’s our own war on drugs which makes the one South of the Border so deadly and unending, and which is forcing more Central Americans to sacrifice everything (including their rights) in coming here.