US-Mexico border

Picture this: You are walking through 90-degree, dry heat in a pair of worn-out shoes. You haven’t had a drink of water or a pinch of food in two days. Beads of sweat drip from your brow line to your lips as you tread through the hot desert sand looking for something in the distance. With each step, you are terrified of being attacked by drug smugglers or found by border patrol. When you look into the distance, you feel despair, as the fence is not in sight. All you want is to see your mother, but she is on one side of the fence and you are on the other. The fence signifies reunification with your mother, food, water, safety and most of all, survival. You would do just about anything for that, wouldn’t you?

This is what many Mexican immigrants trying to enter the United States face on a daily basis. Because of how difficult and costly it is to go through the legal immigration process to enter the U.S., many have to enter the country illegally. They do this because they are in need of work, in search of a family member or because they know the only possibility of life for them lies in another country.

Taxpayers have spent $90 billion over the past decade to secure the border. While the flow of illegal immigrants has dropped, the number of deaths at the border keeps increasing because of the violent use of weapons and increased number of patrol operations. But militarization at the border is not the answer. The push factors for immigration created by the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. and Mexican economies, and poverty-stricken nations of Central America and Mexico are too strong for migrants to resist. A more militarized border will only increase the risk of crossing. But for these migrants, the risk is worth the reward.

A more militarized border is like putting a bandage on a gaping wound. It doesn’t get to the source of the problem, and it is simply a quick and expensive fix. People wouldn’t put their lives and their children’s lives at risk for no reason. These migrants cross the border because that is their only option; no fence can stop that from happening. What we should be doing is putting money and time toward immigration reform, not toward ways to track and kill people in search of the American dream. Treat the source, not the consequence.