The U.S. government has increased its spending on border enforcement, in order to mediate the persisting problem of illegal immigration from Mexico. In addition to the increased spending of $10 billion more per year on border enforcement, the government also spent tons of money creating a fence across the border, which has had little effect in decreasing the number of unauthorized immigrants who come into the U.S. In fact, the fence has created a greater problem, because it funnels the migration streams from Mexico and Latin America into more dangerous points of entry. Many activists groups have been established in order to address the many problems concerning human rights violations along the border.
A political science professor interviewed over 1,000 migrants in an effort to highlight the impacts of border enforcement on migrants. In his study, Cornelius (2006) found that heightened border enforcement does not discourage immigrants from migrating. Often, the migrants keep trying to cross until they finally succeed. More migrants have begun hiring smugglers–which cost anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 per person–in an effort to ensure safer crossings.
There is a large discussion suggesting the need for reform because of the re-direction of immigrants into more dangerous terrain, which causes more deaths. In addition, the detention facilities in which immigrants are held are often lacking in their ability to provide adequate food and access to medical care. There have also been reports of physical and sexual abuse in the detention facilities. Castillo (2011) discussed the different testimonies reported by No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization in Arizona whose mission is to end the deaths and mistreatment on the U.S.-Mexico border, and to make the public aware of what is happening there. In addition, members of the organization wish to encourage more humane immigration policies and want to see a reform of the current legislation. Castillo (2011) found that many immigrants who are held by Border Patrol are denied food and water, even if they are clearly dehydrated, and are subject to extreme hot and cold conditions, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse. At times, some immigrants were unable to retrieve all of their personal belongings upon departure. Also, there were reports that children were often split from their parents and deported separately, which is very unjust, especially when taking in consideration the trauma that children must already be suffering, only to then be separated from a source of comfort – their parents. In addition, racial profiling and harassment are common along the border.
Other organizations that defend basic human and civil rights are the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso and Derechos Humanos In Arizona. Both organizations hope to correct misinformation through informative demonstrations and marches. Isabel Garcia, founder of Derechos Humanos, stated that “lies about immigrants prevent any real justice.” Others suggest changes in U.S. immigration policy that could decrease the U.S.-Mexico conflict. For example, Cornelius (2006) proposes that we should legalize the immigrants who are here, therefore providing them an option for upward mobility. Also, he suggested that perhaps the U.S. government could grant temporary worker options, which has the potential to decrease illegal entries. It is clear that there is a need for reform and that these conflicts should be made aware to the public.
Castillo, Mariano. 2011. “Report: Border Patrol abuses widespread.” Retrieved May 14, 2012 (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-22/us/us_border-patrol-allegations_1_border-patrol-migrants-arizona-mexico/2?_s=PM:US).
Cornelius, Wayne A. 2006. Impacts of Border Enforcement on Unauthorized Mexican Migration to the United States. Border Battles: The U.S. Immigration Debates. Retrieved April 10, 2012 (http://borderbattles.ssrc.org/Cornelius/).
Detention Watch Network. 2012. “Border Enforcement and Short-Term Detention.” Retrieved May 14, 2012 (http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/node/2394).