Another bit of evidence is provided by University of Chicago Law School Professor (and blogger) Eric Posner, who used data from a Customs and Border Protection website to construct an informative graph. A few added dates show the magnet effect of DREAMer amnesty talk. Note that the number of unaccompanied children was declining until Obama proclaimed his administrative DREAM reward:
But hearing that America’s border was open for moppets wouldn’t help Central American moochers if they couldn’t travel the 1800 miles to immediately demand food, housing, education and welfare benefits — the Centrals needed a ride.
Perhaps seeing a big money-making opportunity, the criminal cartels decided to rejigger their business model to expand human trafficking. Somehow the rumor mill revved up — whether it was manufactured by the cartels to make drug smuggling easier, or by some governmental entity, as Lou Dobbs suspects, “a strategy being carried out.”
So in addition to the Obama-created pull factor, an increased means to access America’s free stuff was made available.
In the following article, Mexico scholar George Grayson provides some interesting details about the drug gangs’ reconfiguration.
Tactical shift by cartels could be fueling migrant surge, USA Today, June 27, 2014
AUSTIN – The masses of unaccompanied youth who have recently crossed Texas’ southern border tell of gang violence and economic hardship as main motivators for their treacherous trip north.
But a tactical shift by Mexican drug cartels and their splinter groups could be fueling the exodus as well, analysts and law enforcement officials say.
Recent arrests of the leadership of the Zetas and Gulf cartels, which control much of the illicit human transit just south of McAllen, Texas, has dismantled the groups’ hierarchy and led to splinter groups that are shifting away from drug trafficking and getting increasingly involved in human smuggling, said Tony Payan,director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The cartels, now roaming Mexico in smaller, independent groups, work in tangent with so-called “coyotes” – or smuggling guides – to recruit families from their Central American neighborhoods and bring them north through Mexico with promises of better lives in the USA, he said.
As the U.S. has beefed up its border with Mexico, adding 21,000 agents, drones and new checkpoints, these criminal rings avoid venturing into the U.S., Payan said. Instead, they take their human cargo as far as the Rio Grande and tell the families to turn themselves in on the other side.
“This tactical shift by organized crime is in response to the effectiveness of Border Patrol,” he said. “Organized crime in Mexico has reconfigured itself.”
The Zetas, in particular, are borrowing from a tactic they’ve used for years while smuggling Cuban immigrants across the Mexican border, said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., who has written about border security. Under U.S. policy, Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil are allowed to remain in the USA while they apply for permanent residency. In recent years, the Zetas have shifted that tactic to Central American youth, he said. U.S. policy allows the youth to be released to an adult, while they await a court hearing,
In smuggling the groups from Central America to the Mexico-U.S. border, the criminal rings have found a means of generating large amounts of revenue while limiting their exposure and risk in the USA, he said.
“They’re diversifying,” Grayson said. “They’re doing less in drugs, more in kidnapping, extortion, and human smuggling.”
Unaccompanied minors have been illegally crossing into the USA for decades. But their numbers have soared in recent years, from around 7,000 to 8,000 a year earlier this decade to 24,668 last fiscal year, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for the youth.
As of mid-June, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the border for the fiscal year beginning in October, mostly coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. To accommodate the crush of young immigrants, ORR has had to open new shelters in Texas, California, Arizona and Oklahoma.
The House Homeland Security Committee announced this week it will hold a field hearing on Thursday in McAllen to continue seeking answers on how to solve the crisis. The hearing will include testimony from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, among others.
The price of getting through Mexico and across the border into Texas could range from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the client’s nationality and ability to pay, says Janice Ayala, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. The fee is paid in bunches along the way, and all the money goes to the drug cartels.
“They control everything through their corridor,” Ayala said. “They allow criminal activity to happen in their areas, and they profit from it.”
In countries such as Guatemala and Honduras, where average salaries range from about $200 to $300 month, it takes a Herculean effort to raise the funds to migrate north. The money is commonly cobbled together from relatives, remittances from family members living abroad and loans from criminal syndicates, Payan said.
“The coyotes are praying on the poorest of the poorest, the people who have the least,” he said.
The tactical shift by the cartels is witnessed nearly each day on the U.S. shore of the Rio Grande near McAllen, as large groups of mostly women and children paddle across the river, said Chris Cabrera, a McAllen-based Border Patrol agent and vice president of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council.
The groups’ guides don’t bother getting out of the boats and instruct the immigrants to turn themselves in to the nearest Border Patrol unit, he said. It’s a tactic they’ve seen once before, in 2005 and 2006, when a similar, though much smaller, influx of children and families streamed across the border, he said.
“Previously, the smugglers had to work for it,” Cabrera said. “Now, the smuggler doesn’t even get out of the raft. It’s easier and safer for them. There’s no chance of him getting apprehended.”
In shelters across South Texas, the children and their families tell a variety of stories of what motivated them to come, from TV newscasts touting successful immigration stories to increased gang recruitment.
Some children from Honduras report gang members coming to schools and giving presentations on why they should join, said Kimi Jackson, of the Harlingen-based South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Project, one of the few groups who have been in to see the youth. Also, the gangs are increasingly branching out from the big cities, such as Tegucigalpa, and moving into rural areas, causing more teens to flee, she said.
“These are extremely dangerous countries,” Jackson said, “And when a young child is becoming a teenager, they become a prime target for gangs.”