People flee from countries where their lives are in mortal peril and where they and their families are starving; in the U.S., people have pounds to spare.
Half a million Central Americans cross Mexico aboard “La Bestia,” or The Beast, a network of cargo freight trains en route to the United States every year, according to the Migration Policy Institute in a September 2014 report.
There are no passenger trains heading north, and it costs the equivalent of $10,000 to pay a smuggler and risk taking a bus.
Yet the Mexican and American governments urge the train companies to speed up their cars, making it more dangerous for people to get on.
“Migrants travel on top of the train with nothing to hold on to,” the MPI report said. “Accidents caused by train derailments and falls because of changes in speed, or migrants falling asleep are common and have resulted in countless injuries, amputations, and sometimes death.”
Additionally, more checkpoints have been established in areas popular among immigrants as jump on points. Border control has been raiding nearby hotels and makeshift refugee camps that often provide the temporarily homeless migrants with food, shelter and medical care.
On top of that, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), an El Salvadorian gang that most believe originally formed in Los Angeles, California, police the trains themselves. The MPI reports that the gang members ride the trains and often rob, rape, beat and kill people by throwing them to the ground below.
Does anyone still believe that these people genuinely want to come to the United States just to get rich, to steal our jobs, to steal our jewelry or simply for fun?
They come out of a human necessity. They come because their children have asked them when they will eat again. They come because they are in need of an operation here or else they will die. They come because, in their country, a gang that grew up in the United States sprays bullets into their houses relentlessly.
The general opposition to Obama’s recent attempts at immigration reform has seemed to call for the quiet deaths of those “illegals.” Or at least a loud death out of earshot, for the slow death of starvation cannot be quiet.
But we – Americans – wouldn’t know about that.
One out of every three Americans is overweight, according to the CDC, which declared obesity an epidemic in the United States in 2008. The estimated annual medical cost for treatment related to obesity is $147 billion.
The White House said in Nov. 2014 that as many as 11 million individuals “live in the shadows” for fear of getting caught and sent back to countries without the economic capabilities to support them. This is out of a desperate need for immigration reform.
It would cost $285 billion to deport all “illegal” immigrants over the next five years, according to American Progress based on reports by the Department of Homeland Security. This is twice as much as the annual medical cost of obesity.
Under international law, governments have an obligation to use their power to ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled, whether that protection is from their own government, another government or even a private group like Mara Salvatrucha.
If Americans went on a diet, or donated their excess food to countries like Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras (to name a few) the money could go to people who actually need it.
Meanwhile, the border patrol can stop taking bribes and work on standing up to the gangs that have taken over the borderlands.