03 October 2006

Traffickers to cash in on border wall


The 700-mile border wall the U.S. government proposes building will undoubtably make slipping into the United States more difficult, but shouldn't deter many would-be migrants from decamping rural Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

Politics and hurt feelings aside – the Mexican government likens the barrier to the Berlin Wall and considers the construction plans unneighborly – the biggest beneficiary will probably be polleros (traffickers), whose business of smuggling migrants should become a whole lot more lucrative.

In an insightful column in today's Publico (Guadalajara), editor Luis Miguel Gonzalez laid out the polleros' economics. According to a 1993 study, one of every six undocumented migrants hired a pollero. By 2004, the figure jumped to two out of every five. The value of the human-smuggling business is estimated to be worth $5 billion annually.

The smugglers have elaborate networks on both sides of the border and charge fees based on where the migrants want to go and the route being used.

Gonzalez wrote, “The fees vary according to the services. In Baja California, a false passport is obtained for $700 and they charge $700 for jumping the fence.

“Times will be very good for traffickers. ... Money won't be lacking because it's a business nurtured by dreams and crisis.”

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