Migration Showdown at the US-Mexican Border

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/11/2008 01:01:00 AM
Reuters has fascinating news about the ongoing battle between US border control and the increasingly ingenious means would-be immigrants of good and ill intentions are using to traverse the US-Mexican border. As Eddie Money sang, "Gimme some water / 'cause I shot a man on the Mexican border"! What follows is a brief excerpt, though the whole article is well worth reading. Using ramps to launch cars over the wall "Dukes of Hazzard"-style and other hijinks feature large in their strategies. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention:

When U.S. authorities raised a tall curtain of steel through this tiny Arizona border town to prevent people crossing illegally from Mexico, the smugglers on the south side were ready. Using blowtorches and welding gear they burned a rectangular gate in the barrier large enough to drive a truck through, then they sealed it with a padlock to use it at their leisure, border police say.

As the U.S. government pushes ahead with an unprecedented security buildup along the porous Mexico border in this presidential election year, profit-hungry Mexican drug and human smugglers the length of the line are raising their game. Border police are encountering ingenious and often simply brazen attempts to foil security at both the ports of entry and empty spaces along the nearly 2,000 mile (3,200-km) border by human and drug smuggling organizations…

Ongoing measures to erect 670 miles of new fence on the border are credited with helping to cut arrests to some 870,000 last year from 1.1 million. Nevertheless, smugglers are trying and, in many cases succeeding, in breaching every kind of barrier thrown in their paths.

Sturdy steel posts have been sunk in the ground in many areas to stop vehicles crossing north, although drug traffickers have responded by building elaborate vehicle ramps to drive cars over the top, border police say. "It's like the old show 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' cars flying through the air," said James Jacques, a supervisory Border Patrol in San Diego, Calif.

Illegal border crossers are also routinely beating pedestrian barriers using ladders tailor-made in clandestine Mexican workshops, border police say, while others have used screwdrivers to try to clamber over new 14-foot tall, steel-mesh barriers designed to deny handholds.

Of course, smuggling drugs to satiate American demand remains very lucrative:

In recent years, Mexico has developed into a principal route in the international drugs trade. US authorities believe about 80 per cent of the cocaine consumed in the US comes through Mexico.

Several cartels, including the Arrellano FĂ©lix group, have become rich in the process. According to US official estimates, the gangs earn as much as $13.8bn a year through drugs smuggling.