Saturday, April 13, 2013

Code 500 in Texas

Marcela died crossing the Arizona desert.
129 people were found dead trying to cross the US-Mexico border in 2012 in just small corner of Texas: Brooks County near the Gulf of Mexico, south of Corpus Christi.

Yes, border crossing has decreased, but deaths near the border are increasing.

Thank you to the Wall Street Journal for a comprehensive report today on this human side of the border problem.

"The tiny county, population 7,200, accounts for more than a quarter of suspected illegal immigrant deaths along the entire U.S.-Mexico border last year," reports Miguel Bustillo.

"Code 500" is the term for discovery of a dead body.

Those who will grudgingly vote for immigration reform hold up "a secure border" as their prerequisite.

No border can ever be 100% secure--look at the Berlin Wall.

But increasing numbers of migrants will lose their lives, redirected into the most remote and dangerous places for crossing, as we ratchet up the supposed security of our borders.

Is 500 deaths per year the price we are willing to pay for having more secure borders?  

What is so valuable in our nation that we must protect it at the cost of human life?

Let's go back to a friendly border where visas are required at all the ports of entry, but there are no walls and no effort to hunt down people who cross a mile or two from the stations.

Instead, all we need to do is increase penalties for employers who hire people without green cards.

Yes, drugs could more easily get through a porous border, but the "war on drugs" is another area for reform to decrease loss of life.  

We repealed the 18th Amendment to take alcohol sale and distribution away from gang control in the 1930s and reduce the associated death and crime.  (See the 2011 NPR documentary Prohibition by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.)

If we made border crossing easier and set up treatment clinics for access to drugs that are now illegal, today's Mexican gangs would have no source of income.  The government of Mexico could improve its economy and public safety.

Bottom line: many lives would be saved.

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