Who Profits from Illegal Immigration into the US? Part I: Private Business
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Who Profits from Illegal Immigration into the US? Part I: Private Business

This article explores why illegal immigration exists in the us. The reason itÂ’s an extremely profitable and beneficial business for (almost) everyone involved starting from the small private entrepreneur and ending down a long chain of profiteers at both the American and Mexican governments. Part I will explore the private business end of the spectrum.

There are an estimated 10 million plus individuals residing illegally in the United States with hundreds of thousands entering each year. (1) With such a large population of illegal immigrants entering and residing in the US, the question that is often asked is: Why does the United States Government not do more to reduce or eliminate the problem? This article will try to answer this question by focusing on one possible deterrent towards solving this problem... It’s an extremely profitable and beneficial business for (almost) everyone involved starting from the small private entrepreneur and ending down a long chain of profiteers at both the American and Mexican governments. Part I will explore the private business end of the spectrum.

The profitability of illegal immigration transcends nations, cultures, and the morality of those engaging in it. Generally one can easily point a finger towards the “coyote” (smuggler) that makes a few thousand US dollars illegally escorting people across the border, the string of safe houses used by people until they reach their final destination, or the drug cartel that makes a few extra dollars using patsies, as mules, while they carry illicit drugs into this country. While writing about those groups would make for an interesting article, the fact is that the focus will be on those LEGALLY profiting/benefitting from ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION! That is correct: Those individuals, companies, and governments that legally profit/benefit from the illegal immigration!

At the lowest end of the legal profit ladder are private entrepreneurs and corporations that make money facilitating illegal immigration. These companies can be subdivided into two basic groups: Those that profit indirectly versus those that profit directly from the sale of their products and services. A company selling a can of soup that ends up in the backpack of a coyote innocently profits while someone that markets to the smuggler profits directly from the illegal trade.

Let us look at a few of these companies that directly profit from illegal immigration to give us a small taste at the magnitude of the problem:

Take for example Brinco Shoes the maker of specialty sneakers designed to illegally cross the desert between Mexico and American. These sneakers are retailing for about $215 and they provide several unique features for those who want comfort, style and functionality for their trek. These sneakers offer:

“A compass and flashlight dangle from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole. They are red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. On the back ankle, a drawing of Mexico's patron saint of migrants. .” (2)

Besides needing fancy footwear a good GPS system especially designed to cross the American frontier is a handy tool for both illegal immigrants crossing the border in search of low paying, undesirable American jobs or those wanting to evade capture as they transport illegal drugs. Now, thanks to U.C. San Diego’s Professor Richard Dominguez a new phone application can do both! This phone application “…works similar to how a GPS system works in a car.”

"It locates where you are in relation to where you want to go, what is the best way to get to that point and what you can expect when you reach the endpoint," Dominguez tells the North County Times.

Law enforcement agencies are worried that the app. will be used by drug dealers and human smugglers as they try to navigate their way into the United States,

The app. is currently only available on certain types of inexpensive Motorola phones, but Dominguez hopes to have it available for free on other phones like the ultra-suave Apple I Phone.” (3)

While it is good to have the best tools available for the illegal crossing, it is, also, a good idea to practice the route before taking the death defying journey across the desert portion of the border. As they say, “practice makes perfect” and for $20 one can do just that!

In a small sleepy Mexican village of El Alberton in Hidalgo State about 400 miles away from the Mexican American border is what critics have called a “training ground teaching young Mexicans how to escape their country.” The theme park called Parque EcoAlberto provides an extremely popular attraction called caminata nocturna (night hike). What makes this attraction so popular is that it is a recreation of what illegal immigrants experience crossing the Arizona Desert. The visitors meet up with an actor playing a “coyote” and “embark on a five-hour trek in the middle of the night through deeply inhospitable terrain, while being chased and intimidated by armed men in pick-up trucks dressed as US Border Patrol agents.” The game has all the features of a real chase: The sounds of gunshots being fired in the dark; sirens and men speaking Spanish in megaphones telling you to ‘give yourself up’; The effects of being captured, searched, handcuffed, and being herded like cattle into border patrol cars; the complete feeling of mad panic as everyone runs for their lives to avoid capture… (4)

There are many companies on either side of the border interested in cashing in on illegal immigrants crossing into the United States. Once these people enter America, the list of profiteering companies and individuals explodes!

There are a diverse number of industries where you will find a large number of illegal immigrants working. A small sampling is: agriculture (hiring labors to harvest the crops), construction (unskilled or low skilled), hospitality (janitors, maids, and others), fast food (cooks, bus boys, etc), landscaping (cutting grass, trimming hedges and more), and a host of factories looking to hire people at close to minimum wages! All these industries have two things in common:

1. They claim they cannot find legal residents or United States citizens that will do this type of work.

2. The goal of each of these companies is to minimize the cost of their labor. Simply put: they want to hire hard working people and pay them the least they possibly can!

The result of these two factors is a sad reality in which companies have an available pool of exploitable labor depriving of those who are legally able to work an opportunity to work for these companies on a par basis with other companies and industries that offer reasonable living wages and benefits.

Let us look at the top of the list of exploitable industries: agriculture.

“Data show that most farm workers in the United States are foreign-born Latinos. White, non-Latino, U.S.-born farm workers are "not a dying breed, it's a dead breed," says William Kandel, a sociologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

Here is an excerpt from “Stable Farm Labor Seems Elusive in Global Economy”

Published: Saturday, November 07, 2009, 7:49 PM Updated: Sunday, November 08, 2009, 9:23 AM

“Monty Smith has done farm work since he was 12. He has worked on horse ranches, dairy farms, berry farms, plus cattle, sheep and goat farms. His family, originally from Oklahoma, followed crops from state to state.

Smith, 38, says 'Farming is just something the American people don't do anymore,' he says.

'It seems to me like a lot of Oregon workers are looking for higher-pay jobs -- $11 to $12 an hour -- not minimum wage,' Smith says. 'It takes lot for a person to raise their family, and farms don't pay that.'

Farm work can mean eight- to 18-hour days, toiling in the scorching sun or cold rain, relocating and having little family time. And many farmers don't pay overtime.” (5)

Some may argue that immigrants are taking jobs away from able bodied Legal residents and Americans. To determine if this was really the case, United Farm Workers (UFW), the main agricultural union, conducted a test by launching a campaign entitled “Take Our Jobs.” “It invited willing Americans to work in the field. In the following three months 3 million people visited takeourjobs.com… Only 8,600 people expressed an interest in working in the fields, says Ms Machuca. But they made demands that seem bizarre to farm workers, such as high pay, health and pension benefits, relocation allowances and other things associated with normal American jobs. In late September only seven American applicants in the “Take our jobs” campaign were actually picking crops.” (6)

As the above example illustrates, farming corporations hire exploitable labor, which generally is illegal, in order to avoid providing fair living wages and reasonable working conditions comparable to other industries. Since thousands of desperate people flock to these jobs out of desperation, companies can flaunt the law knowing there is little chance of prosecution.

For some the question can be framed in a matter of morality versus legality. To those companies and individuals employing illegal immigrants there is a feeling that they are providing a moral benefit by hiring illegal immigrants in desperate need of a job to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. The belief is that their noble actions far out way the fact that these people have no legal standing to work in the country. While on the surface such actions may appear noble, indeed, the reality is such statements are nothing more than a thinly covered veil hiding their underlying greed and hypocrisy. To hire desperate people, pay then substandard wages, work them hard, and know these people will not complain for fear of deportation becomes more a matter who does it truly benefit: the rich and powerful profiteers or the illegal immigrant.

The article began with a question Who Profits from Illegal Immigration into the US?

Be it small enterprising people selling sneakers to run across the border, classes on how to cross undetected, or business all too eager to profit from a large exploitable labor pool, the answer to that question is: Lots and ever growing.

Other articles in the subject:

How Illegal Immigration into the US was born

Interesting facts About the Mexican American border Fence


History of Illegal Immigration in U.S.,” by www.endillegalimmigration.com (1)

Illegal immigrants to cross border in specialty sneaks,” USA Today, Nation, 11/17/2005, by Denis Poroy, AP(2)

GPS Cell Phone App Helps Illegals Cross Border,” Originally Published by James King @ Phoenix New Times, December 2, 2009, Reprinted on www.inforwars.com (3)

Risking death crossing the Mexican border,” by Chris Ayres, The Times, January 16, 2009 (4)

Stable farm labor seems elusive in global economy,” By Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian, Published: Saturday, November 07, 2009, 7:49 PM, Updated: Sunday, November 08, 2009, 9:23 AM (5)

Migrant farm workers Fields of tears” Published by The Economist reprinted online from print edition Dec 16th 2010 | Arvin and Watsonville, CALIFORNIA |(6)

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Comments (6)

I cant understand why the U.S government hasn't yet introduced a guest worker program that would have a path to citizenship built in, especially for agricultural workers. Instead they have been cracking down on undocumented workers and employers. Your article didn't mention that thousands of people have already left the country because the situation has become so difficult for them. This has put a big strain on communiteis in Arizona which no longer have the necessary workers; businesses were already suffering with the eonomic problems. Also, families torn apart, unjust immagration laws, where does it end? I also doubt if poor Mexicans, many of whom whom got in debt to cross the border can afford $200 plus for a pair of sneakers or a fancy cell phone with GPS.

Thank you Peter for taking the time for a detailed comment. You are correct about the issue with the guest worker program. If you read my article on “How illegal immigration was born into the US” you will read that this country actually had a guest worker program from 1942 to 1967. It worked extremely well! It was called Bracero program. At the height of the program almost 5 million Mexican workers came. While Braceros were supposed to be hired only if Americans could not be found, the truth was that employers preferred them due to their willingness to work cheaply.(Note: in this system the bracero’s had legal rights and they could not so easily be exploited) At that time there wasn’t any illegal immigration to speak of! Then in the late 50’s and the mid 60’s this country underwent a massive social change. Ironically the end of the Braceros program and the 1965 Immigration Act were the major causes of the next wave of illegal immigrants. As the Center for Immigration Studies noted, this increased illegal immigration in part because Congress “shifted the legal preference system to family relations and away from employment needs and immigrant ability.” This bill spurred “chain migration” which fueled illegal immigration, along with a sense of entitlement amongst illegal immigrants. Lastly, I am writing a series of articles each detailing the issues that you talked about. The next article will discuss why it is beneficial for the government to have these groups of people work and live in this country illegally and explains why the solutions you talk about are not in the best interest of the government!

Lastly, Peter, you are correct that poor Mexicans can least afford expensive products or services; however, all that is needed is to convince a desperate person that their chances of successfully crossing the border will increase with their purchase and you will be surprised the number sales that can be made!

Ok Eva, thanks for your reply, you have obviously studied this subject and are writing an informative series of articles. The fact that you are encouraging people to discuss this issue is a good thing. The government, after their initial rhetoric, seems to have put it on the back burning-as it were.

An exceptionally well written article and a much needed point of discussion - and action.

Wow, never knew such things existed. Living in the north, our experience with illegals is not as great, however, as times change, we see more and more people from other countries and wonder what their status really is. Voted this excellent and well researched article.