Looking at the immigration field, from the proverbial height of 50,000 feet, I sometimes sense missed opportunities for one side (the law-enforcers) or the other side (the law-breakers.)
This may be regarded as a tale of a book, a railroad, and a boat.
The Book. A book was published in the States in the last year that described in detail how several players are currently operating medium to large schemes to violate the immigration law.
I don't want to reveal the title or author yet for fear of tipping off the bad guys.
The geography where these ongoing schemes happen is either described or can be sussed out; the national origins of the aliens using the scheme are noted; and numerous clues on related local governmental practices are described. It all takes place on our East Coast.
Further, the author, who is not a journalist, could be required to identify the main criminals.
Now, I am not expecting our immigration authorities to read every book on the violation of our immigration laws, though there are not many, but when something like this is brought to their attention there should be some action.
On the other hand, though the Center’s postings would be a useful place to discuss this in more detail, I fear that one or more of the malefactors would learn about it, and start covering their tracks, ruining a prime enforcement opportunity.
A friend in an enforcement agency – not in DHS – knows of this book, and has copy of it, and has tried several times to interest DHS officials in the appropriate offices located in the appropriate region about it, but has been unable to create any interest.
But if a genuine federal agent, whose identity I could quietly confirm, wants to know more about this, please drop me an email at <[email protected]>.
The Railroad. While the book is small and obscure, the railroad, and more importantly, its right-of-way, is very much in the open, and could be used as a strong and relatively inexpensive barrier to the OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) who are surging through Mexico towards the U.S., as my colleagues Todd Bensman and Art Arthur report regularly.
If you take a look at the map of Mexico you will see that its border with the U.S. is about 1,900 miles long but that the nation narrows to a slender piece of land in its southeastern corner, just before it touches Guatemala and Belize. This is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
A little used railroad across the Isthmus (it is 190 miles long, one tenth the length of our southern border) runs from the Gulf of Mexico down to the Pacific; it was built more than 100 years ago as a (failed) alternative to the Panama Canal, as we reported several years ago.
My notion is that all the non-Mexican illegals traversing Mexico by land on their way to our southern border must cross this little-mentioned rail line, which is owned by Mexico. Why not build a really severe fence on the west side of the rail line – at this point the railroad runs north and south – and use the right of way, and the rail-line itself, to enforce Mexico’s own immigration laws. We would pay Mexico to do this, and we would have to obtain some real assurances that the railway crossings would be managed in a desired way.
One argument against such a deal, on the Mexican side, would be that it is inappropriate for a nation to have an immigration checkpoint in the middle of one’s own country, it is a violation of its sovereignty, etc. A counter argument would be that we, in the U.S., do this all the time; there are Border Patrol check points, at various locations some miles back from the southern border, where all traffic is screened to detect illegal aliens.
Looking back in U.S. history, had Jimmy Carter not give the Canal Zone back to Panama, we would have a U.S. presence right across the Isthmus of Panama, and could check everyone heading one way or the other.
The Boat(s). If Paul Revere were alive today, and living in the difficult jungle of the Darien Gap area of Panama, recently described by my colleague Todd Bensman, he might say regarding how to get to Panama if you are in Colombia: “One, if by land, two, if by sea – and three, if by air.”
There are, in short, three different ways that one can use to get from one nation to the other, as you can see by this map:
We hear often about the terrible jungle, of southern Panama, that hampers movement from Colombia to Panama; it is the only missing piece of the Pan-American Highway which otherwise runs from Canada down to Chile and Argentina. It is apparently the main way that aliens, from all over the world, use to get from Colombia, which has loose restrictions on who can visit, and Panama, the next step on the way to Texas.
My question is, given both the cost and the danger of the on-the-ground trip why don’t the illegal aliens do something more pleasant and perhaps less expensive, take a fishing boat or some other vessel from northwestern Colombia, on either the Pacific or the Caribbean side of the country, to Panama beyond the Darien Gap?
I am sure that you could bribe some fisherman to make that trip for you. I am equally sure that neither the Panamanian Navy (if there is one) nor the Colombian Navy would interfere.
Is this going on, and we do not know about it? Maybe. Are the incoming aliens lacking in imagination? Perhaps. As to the third approach, by air either legally or illegally, that may be more expensive than either land or sea trips.
I get the sense that one can legally get into Panama if one has proof of onward transportation out of the country, so such boat trips might even be legal.
Maybe I should not be writing about such an opportunity, but with my pointing out two possible enforcement opportunities, and one opportunity for the law-breakers, I think an appropriate balance has been maintained. Further, I bet my readership includes a lot more enforcement types than illegals, particularly aliens in Colombia.