LatinaLista — To make the issue of illegal immigration more palatable during this election, both candidates feel safe in cushioning their stands with the proclamation that before any real work is done on reforming our immigration system, the border must be fully secured.
(Source: Walt Handelsman: Newsday)
Though it's implied that securing the border will keep out the terrorists whom we seem to think are biding their time in Mexican shantytowns where they're plotting before they make their next big move, the real reason has less to do with terrorists than dissuading and deterring any future migrants who either have dollar signs in their eyes or who need to reconnect with separated family members.
In truth, using the excuse of shoring up the southern border to keep migrants out is an admission by the government that they don't know these people for whom a wall, a fence or a river is an annoyance but not a deterrence.
Frontera NorteSur reports that new data as reported by the Mexican media paints a very different picture of how many people are crossing the border, where they are going and who they are.
New data reported by the Mexican media suggest that emigration to the United States rose sharply in 2007, the first full year of the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Based on United States Census Bureau numbers, Mexicoâ€™s National Population Council (Conapo) estimated that 679,611 Mexicans made the move to El Norte last year. According to Conapo, the number of Mexican nationals relocating to the US was up 5.9 percent from 2006. It was the highest jump in Mexican emigration registered since 2002.
However, because of the slumping U.S. economy, the volatile anti-immigrant climate and, yes, stricter border measures, it is being reported there are fewer Mexicans heading north. Yet, the ones who are still coming are doing so for a different reason â€” because they're fleeing the random kidnappings and drug war crossfire that has gripped their country.
The revelations don't stop there.
Forty-four percent of all Mexican migrants who are here are women. And while the popular notion is that migrants are coming for jobs in agriculture, the truth is that only 4 percent end up picking fruit and vegetables. "Fifty percent of employed migrants toil in the service sector and another forty percent work in manufacturing, according to Conapo."
Also, almost 70 percent of the Mexican migrants are between the ages of 15 to 44 and in an aging economy that is positive news. What is not so positive is that 50 percent of all Mexican migrants have less than a high school education.
While an education is not a determining factor of how hard a person works, it is a factor in how much a person is paid. Needless to say, because of the low educational levels, most migrants live well below the poverty line.
If ever there is a group caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place it is Mexican migrants. They flee an economy that can't support them and are being turned away by an economy that won't.
What is missing in dealing with the illegal immigration issue is looking at it from the perspective of how it can be mutually beneficial for both Mexico and the United States which share a much stronger symbiotic relationship than critics want to believe.
It goes beyond Mexicans merely working on this side of the border to send remittances home.
It means re-evaluating a working relationship with Mexico where U.S. manufacturing jobs are once again created south of the border, and collaborating on new ways to help Mexico create the kind of security, safety and educational opportunities for all its citizens so that future waves of migrants won't have to break the law to be in this country.
After all, it's common sense to see that if things were as good back home as they are living in poverty is here, most undocumented migrants wouldn't be here.