Sunday, August 14, 2005

Why We Have So Many Illegal Immigrants

I was speaking to a friend yesterday, who happens to be an illegal immigrant. I was curious about why he decided to gamble on coming over to the U.S. to try to make a living. I wasn't exactly shocked to hear what he told me, but I can understand his motivation. There are some things that we take for granted on this side of the border that our neighbors to the south cannot. Amongst these are jobs, standard of living, transportation, and trust in government. These can be compelling reasons.

Jobs

Firstly, jobs in Mexico are of two kinds. There are jobs for the educated and jobs for common laborers. The vast majority of Mexicans cannot afford and are not encouraged to seek higher education past high school. Laborers will perform jobs in construction, food service, and anything else that commands low wages and hard work. For the majority of the population, this is the only option available.

Education helps command better wages but is still not as well compensated. In order for your education to be worthwhile, you need to learn self-employable skills such as medicine, law, computer repair, or whatever you can use to start up your own company or business. Training in clerical skills and other employable positions improve employability, but don't increase earning power by very much. On the other hand, any education means that you will not have to work as a laborer.

Standard of Living

My friend was telling me that living here illegally, even at low wages, he has it better than some of his counterparts back home. Keep in mind, he works long hours and gets one day off per week. Any social life has to happen after hours and on the day off. His job provides him with steady income with which he can pay his rent, bills, and have a little left over to save for big purchases.

Transportation

One large purchase for anybody is a vehicle. Here in the United States, if you buy a vehicle, you have to pay tax, title, and license. This is the same for a new or used vehicle. Obviously, a new vehicle costs more in tax, but that is all. In Mexico, if you buy a new vehicle, you can expect to pay about $600 to $700 per MONTH in fees! Keep in mind, you own the vehicle and still have to pay for the privilege of driving it. If you ow and older vehicle, you have to pay $600 per year. In the U.S. our annual costs are the state inspection sticker and registration renewal, almost negligable costs. You would think that with such high fees they would have better roads. Where does it all go?

Trust in Government

This brings me to the final and most important reason why so many people come over, Government. We take for granted that ours is generally dependable in providing for the common good. Amongst our government's greatest contributions are its criminal laws, roads, investment in education, and the military. These things can't be said of the Mexican government. You may recall how President Vicente Fox was touted as being an agent of change for Mexico. He was going to do so much to improve the country. Here we are a few years later and he has been ineffective at doing much of what he was expected to do. I think that he was not counting on bureaucracy to hold him back as much as it has.

With respect to criminal laws, Mexican newspapers along the border are always printing this murder and that. There are robberies and assaults. Thousands of unsolved crimes keep piling up year after year. Recently, drug gangs are fighting each other for control of cities along the border. Keep in mind, they are not fighting the Mexican government. They are fighting each other. So, crime can be a problem in Mexico.

If you have ever driven in Mexico, you know that roads can be scary unless you drive on one of the toll roads. Those are generally well-kept and have the added benefit of not having any practical speed limit. But for the general population, roads leave much to be desired.

I don't know if the Mexican government invests in education in the form of subsidized student loans or guarantees. I'll have to find out about that.

As for the military, Mexico has one. Referring back to the drug wars going on along the border, many of the fighters are ex-military special forces. They make a better living fighting for drug lords than for the Mexican government. The Mexican military is not quite like ours. They don't have deserters. Deserters are killed. It's not official policy, it's just the way things are done. Most people don't trust the military. The military serves corrupt officials.

Is it any wonder that we have illegal immigrants? We have the good life. Unless you listen to Democrats, then we are perpetually miserable.
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