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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Border Smuggling-o-nomics
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:33 pm

Via the AP: Mexico’s migrant-smugglers hike rates

None of the Mexicans hoping to reach the United States could pay the $3,000 the smugglers demanded to hide them in a car and drive them across the border, a trip that just weeks ago cost $2,000.

The sharp increase in smugglers’ fees is due to the arrival of National Guard troops at the border and plans by Washington for even greater border security, all of which will make the sometimes deadly trip into the United States even more difficult and dangerous. The higher fees have convinced some to cancel plans to sneak into the United States, while others have decided to go it alone.

Mexican and U.S. authorities are already seeing a drop in illegal migration, although it isn’t clear if that will last.

Border experts argue the downturn may be temporary while smugglers search for new routes through deadlier terrain and migrants come up with the money to pay the higher fees.

This will almost certainly be the case-as it has been the previous pattern. As I noted before, the sad irony of increased security is that the Coyotes tend to be the ones who profit from it:

Smugglers’ fees jumped in 1994 after the U.S. sent more agents to what were then the busiest illegal crossing points along the Texas and California borders. The measures funneled migrants into the hostile Arizona desert, making smugglers even more valuable and transforming them from an underground network to a booming illegal industry.

In the past 12 years, the average price for helping migrants move north through the Arizona desert increased sixfold, from $300 in 1994 to $1,800.

Suddenly, smugglers are charging as much as $4,000, migrant rights activists say.

And, one suspects that the migrants will find a way to find the cash.

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