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Justin Darr
Jan. 22, 2006

If there is anything people hate more than buying a used car, filling out tax forms, or visiting their attorney’s office it is meeting the glassy eyed enthusiasm of some acquaintance who wants to recruit you into a multi-level-marketing scheme. You know the ones. If you can make a list of everyone you know, and they can make a list of everyone they know, and each of you spend a few hundred dollars a month on some assorted widget or another, in three to five years you could be living on your own Caribbean island.

Fortunately, in the United States, the worse of these Ponzi pyramid schemes are illegal. But, imagine for a moment if they were not. Imagine also if, rather than toothpaste, insurance, and Saint John’s Wort, the product you were purchasing was the right to build a shed in your back yard, open a business, or avoid police harassment? And, what if this extortion was institutionalized to the point that it became the price of trying to live a normal life?

This is the case of the average citizen of Mexico. In 2005, a survey conducted by Transparency International showed that between 31 and 45% of Mexicans had someone in their family forced to pay a bribe to a public official in the past year.

Corruption is an endemic aspect of Mexican government. Extending from the local police who routinely shake down people who commit minor infractions for cash all the way to top government officials who habitually cut deals with political cronies and drug traffickers to shape Mexican law.

After endless decades, this culture of corruption has taken its toll. Over 20% of the Mexican population lives in poverty, only 62% of people have access to clean drinking water, 25% of the economy is illegal, and in the oil rich state of Chiapas; 40% of all homes have dirt floors and 21% have no electricity. All in a country with a $1 trillion gross domestic product.

Mexico has all the resources to develop a successful economy and enable its citizens to earn a comfortable, modern life, but chooses not to do so for the simple fact that the government is unwilling to stop enriching themselves at the expense of average people.

Faced with these realities, is it any wonder 46% of the Mexican population would like to immigrate to the United States?

It would seem obvious that any responsible government in Mexico’s situation would take steps to fight the corruption that is ruining the lives of so many of its citizens, reform itself, and reverse these trends. Mexican President Vicente Fox tried after he was elected in 2000, but all of his reform efforts failed soon after the Mexican bureaucracy realized that reform would mean they would have to stop running back to the cash cows of extortion, bribery and illegal kickbacks that have financed their lifestyles.

But now, President Fox has found an answer to solving the problems of a stagnating economy and crushing poverty that does not require him to confront Mexico’s political corruption: illegal immigration.

Why solve problems when you can export them? It is obvious that almost half of all Mexicans do not want to be there, so why bother wasting all the time an effort on making Mexico less of a lousy place to live and just let them go?

In fact, encourage it. Not only does illegal immigration reduce the number of impoverished citizens who might get mad enough to vote you out of office, but it also creates an outstanding, if unauthorized, source of national income in the form of family remittances. Last year, Mexicans living in the United States sent over $17 billion in cash remittances to their families in Mexico, constituting the largest single source of income into the Mexican economy, outpacing even the oil industry.

However, more important to many Mexican officials, illegal immigration creates vast new opportunities for them to do what they do best; collect bribes and extort cash.

Just an in any other Ponzi pyramid scheme, eventually the money starts to dry up. The only way to keep the scheme afloat is to either find new population areas where the numbers of victims of your system have not yet reached a saturation point, or those already caught up in your deception suddenly find new sources of income to give you. The second is the case for Mexico. Mexicans working in the United States send their money home trying to help their families survive, only to see it extorted from their loved ones by corrupt Mexican officials

Is it any wonder Mexico is fighting to prevent the United States from securing its borders? If America were to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, then Mexico would be forced to deal with its own problems and actually address the issues that have forced millions of its citizens to want to flee the nation, namely, the incompetence of its government.

Mexico has recently claimed the United States’ efforts to secure its borders are an international human rights abuse. However, the only human rights abuse occurring in this case is Mexico’s treatment of its own citizens. It is not the United States’ responsibility to act as Mexico’s economic savior and pull its people out of poverty, but to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, and force Mexico to change itself. Truthfully, it is the only moral decision we can make.

© Justin Darr

Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in publications across North America and in Europe.

Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud member of the MoveOff Network.

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