The United States of America has remained as the top destination for immigrants because of the belief that the country can offer a new home, life and freedom they cannot get in their own home countries. Some would migrate to America because of the war, while there are a few seeking asylum from their respective governments or threats. Migrants come from all over the globe, especially in border countries such as the Latin American countries like Mexico. However, as the years progress, illegal immigration of immigrants, especially of Mexicans are increasing rapidly that raises the concern of many regarding the dangers it can present to the US. Mexicans illegally immigrate to the United States in order to escape the control of drug cartels and sellers, regain their civilian rights, and the severe poverty that has ravaged the country for decades.
The United States boasts one of the largest geographic territories in the globe after China, Canada and Russia; sharing many of its boundaries with other countries. According to Beaver (2006), America’s borders span from 3,987 miles, covering Mexico and the Alaska-Canada border for both land and water territories. At least 13 US states are sharing its borders with Canada while 4 are sharing borders with Mexico. Depending on the travel arrangements made by visitors, visitors can enter the country through these shared borders or air . Alden (2012) stressed that since the 1970s, the level of immigrants in the US have increased significantly after the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 . Given the high rates of immigrants that enters the country, the US government takes precautions against two major threats that often entail immigrants: threat actors and illegal goods. Rosenblum, Bjelopera and Finklea (2013) stated that threat actors are either transnational terrorists, transnational criminals or illegal immigrants. Most enter the country under tourist or student visa and many overstay after their visa’s expiration . In the 2002 survey, 9.8 million or 30% of the immigrant population in the country are Mexicans, followed by Filipinos and other Latin American nations .
The US federal government has utilized several key policies to regulate such increase in immigrants and ensure that no threats enter the country. First and foremost, the US established the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 enabled permanent residents to petition their families in order to become immigrants . After the 9/11 attacks, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established several agencies that would handle homeland security, especially for the border agencies . Finally, the US government also enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 was designed to mandate illegal immigrants to remain outside the country for three years unless pardon is granted .
In the case of Mexican immigrants, there are at least three major factors that contribute to their decision to enter the country and illegally immigrate. First and foremost, Mexicans immigrate to the US to escape the control of the drug cartels which caused the prominence of violence and crime within the country. Lee (2014) stressed that Mexico is currently hailed as one of the largest drug cartels in the globe which has already entrenched itself to the government and to the country, triggering crime, corruption and violence. With the government silenced through bribery, drug cartels around the country would often compete against each other for territory, in order to relocate their operations in the southwest border of the country in order to courier drugs to the United States. Some of the country’s known drug cartels such as the Zetas, Sinaloa Cartel, Beltran Leyva and the Knights Templar are known to have bases near the US-Mexican borders and operations within the United States. As of 2005, Mexico has been considered a major source for Americans for their heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine supply amounting to almost $1.2 trillion each year or 3-4% of Mexico’s annual GDP.
With the presence of these drug cartels in Mexico, there are always reported instances of conflict between members of these cartels and the government forces and often leave civilian casualties who were caught in the crossfire. In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon had ordered the mobilization of the military to replace the corrupt police force and with the aid of US funds and intelligence, targeted cartel leaders based around the country. However, Calderon’s offensive not only triggered the splintering of these cartels to smaller groups, but caused the deaths of almost forty mayors and municipal officials around the country. Kidnappings, extortion, massacre and homicide were also reported by the Mexican government. Since Calderon’s tenure, almost 120,000 intentional homicides have been reported in comparison to former president Vicente Fox’s tenure while 26,000 civilians were reported “missing” or “disappeared” as of 2014. Adding to the violence around the country are the presence of the autodefensas or self-defense groups fighting against drug traffickers. However, these groups were questioned regarding their possible connections to these cartels or even turn their weapons against the Mexican public . Mexicans see the United States as their chance to escape the violence caused by these cartels because these cartels have immersed itself deeply within Mexico that it is a miracle if one survives from gun shots or sudden kidnappings. Hastings (2013) reported that almost 23,000 Mexicans seek American asylum since the beginning of 2013 to escape cartel terrorism and fear the possibility that they are next in the hit list. The U.S. also is a natural choice for Mexican immigrants to migrate into because of its closeness to the country. Finally, some Mexicans prefer to immigrate to the US to reopen their businesses in the American borders to escape the influence of the drug cartels .
Aside from escaping the reach of drug cartels, Mexicans immigrate to regain their civil rights. According to the US Department of State (2012), the law on freedom of speech, assembly and movement is violated within Mexico; preventing the public to express their thoughts on the government and move around the country. Most of the media organizations in Mexico are owned by the government, which is why journalists are threatened or attacked for reporting the government’s back deals. Mexican citizens are also barred from exercising their right to replace their government and hold fair elections. In the recent elections, there were no turnouts from the indigenous and minorities, especially for the representation in the government. Finally, there are also reports of abuse and violence especially in women and children which are not responded by the government. In 2011, 46% of Mexican women have reported that they were victims of violence, especially in Chiapas and in the main capital and the government did not act upon catching the culprits . As far as worker rights are concerned, Mexican immigrants stress that the Mexican government does not enact their worker rights despite stressing the provisions in ensuring equal salary and worker welfare. Mexican labor law offers no provisions for trade unions and registry for collective bargaining agreements. In this end, many workers find themselves vulnerable in the work place and are unaware of the rights they have under their respective organizations. Worker discrimination and child labor are also prominent in Mexico, especially in maquiladora factories and in the export processing industries . With their immigration to the US, Mexican immigrants report that America is working hand in hand with the Mexican government to educate illegal immigrants of their civil rights and liberties despite their illegal status in the country. America has also signed an agreement to protect discrimination and worker rights of illegal immigrants under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The US Labor Department also opened counters for illegal immigrants in the US to discuss their circumstances and ensure they can stand up to their rights and complain against their employers .
Finally, Mexicans immigrate to escape severe poverty and the lack of opportunity in the country. According to the International Federation for Human Rights (2008) poverty in the country is caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1994, triggering income inequalities on many Mexican businesses and industries. With the addition of globalization, Mexican workers choose to abandon their lands, especially farmers because of the cheap prices of their goods in the United States. In the cases for younger Mexicans, they opt to migrate to the north because of the financial dependence caused by the remittances of their families in the US. Finally, there is a lack of actions from the government to establish development programs that would benefit the poorest Mexicans, especially those affected by drug cartels and emigration. Mexicans opt to immigrate to the US to find a better job and improve their social capacity. Mexican immigrants, especially the untrained and illegal ones, are preferred to work for reserve jobs that can handle heavy and dirty jobs such as construction and agriculture. There are also instances that migrants get jobs in the US through the help of their relatives or fellow illegal immigrants who have gotten a job. Mexicans also migrate to the country in order to learn and acquire better education to improve job competencies . Currently, Mexican migrants report that they have a better life when they have moved to the United States. This is due to the opportunities they have managed to receive despite being undocumented, while some are given amnesty and became naturalized citizens. Mexican immigrants revolutionize the US labor market by making it more efficient. Kapur (2013) stressed that US businesses tend to lean towards Mexican immigrants as they can easily adapt with the changes in employment and relocate if necessary . Finally, Mexican immigrants are perceived to diversify the labor and social market as they are now seen as integral parts of society .
Given the current situation in Mexico, it is likely that illegal immigration would continue to persist. For Mexicans, they see America as a safe haven away from the drug cartels, oppressive civil and working conditions and from the lack of opportunities and severe poverty in the country. The US and Mexican governments work hand in hand to improve the situation of Mexicans in order to reduce instances of illegal immigration due to fear and lack of civil rights and provide opportunities within their home countries.
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