“We’ve been hungry, cold, hot, but here we are chasing the American dream, for a better life for our family,” a migrant seeking to illegally enter the U.S. recently told CNN.
It’s an understandable instinct. All parents want a better life for their children. Over three billion people live on less than $6.85 a day. There can be no doubt that economic ruin across the developing world is spurring mass migration. And America, no matter what people say, remains a beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity for those in desperation.
We are the most generous country on Earth, admitting more than one million immigrants each year. But even America cannot open its doors to everyone.
Yet for more than two years, “open doors” is exactly what the Biden administration has messaged to the outside world. When Joe Biden ran for president in 2020, he declared that he would welcome all people fleeing conflict and oppression. Illegal immigration at the southern border rose.
Once in the White House, President Biden said he would lift Title 42. Illegal immigration rose higher. Now, Title 42 has been lifted, and progressive advocacy groups are already suing to roll back the token restrictions implemented in its place. The result – illegal immigration will rise higher still.
The greatest beneficiaries of this mass movement are not poor migrants, but predatory criminal organizations. The reason for this is simple. Take, for example, the story of a woman from Guatemala who left her young daughter behind in 2014. The New York Times reported that “with a new president in the White House,” the woman decided it was time to bring her daughter to the U.S. and “agreed to pay $3,400 to a smuggler.” Multiply that price by hundreds of thousands, and you get an awful lot of money.
In short, human smuggling is now one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises on the planet, and our southern border is the coyote’s equivalent of a gold mine. The cartels, which already have decades of experience in trafficking drugs like cocaine, meth and fentanyl across our border, are seizing the moment.
Smuggling humans earned the cartels $500 million in 2018. Today, it earns them an annual $13 billion or more. That’s a nearly 3,000% revenue increase in five years – a thriving business by anyone’s standards.
Who pays the price for these criminals’ gains? The migrants beaten, mutilated and raped by coyote traffickers in service of financial extortion. The countless migrant children sexually abused on their way to the U.S. The tens of thousands of Americans who die from fentanyl every year. U.S. law enforcement officers, many of whom have been injured at or near the border. And the nations that, day by day, lose their young and healthy populations while the cartels grow in power.
Those who call for open borders, whether explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, are partly responsible for this suffering. By giving people hope for something that is just not possible – the ability of every person in need to enter the U.S. – they release a spirit of lawlessness that organized criminals are bound to harness for their own benefit, to the detriment of everyone else.
For all the Biden administration’s talk of wanting to help stabilize poorer nations so their citizens don’t want to leave, the administration’s policies are doing just the opposite. Luring people away from their homes with political promises and fueling cartel industries are making things worse in Mexico, Guatemala and beyond. And yes, it is making things worse in the U.S. as well.
What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? One with an increasingly large and increasingly desperate pool of would-be migrants? Or one in which people do not feel the need to flee their communities for a better life elsewhere? The latter sounds a lot better than the former to me. But we will not reach it unless we secure the border and starve drug dealers and human traffickers of their largest source of cash.