Migrating In A Globalizing World: The US And Latin America

The immigration, illegal and legal, of Mexico nationals to the United States (US), has been a controversial topic of conversation in recent years as the US experiences the effects of immigration.  Controversy has begun with illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, and the economic effects of new immigration proposals. The US has begun to change immigration policy as they experience the effects, positive and negative, of being the top immigration country, per a 2013 statistic released by the World Bank (Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016). When entering this new age in immigration policy, the US tends toward a nationalistic approach.

Immigration between Mexico and the US is becoming an issue in modern policy due to the increase of immigrants throughout history. In 2013, the Mexico-US corridor was the largest corridor in the world (Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016).  This, among other claims, have led to the development of Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements given by President Trump. The purpose of this executive order is defined by means of border security as it has become “critically important.” Those who are entering the US “present a significant threat to national security and public safety.” Also, the recent executive order claims that the “recent surge of illegal immigration at the Southern border has overwhelmed agencies charged with border security.”  A main concern in the writing of this executive order is the criminal organization apparent on both sides of the border and the transferring of drugs across as well as the other violent crimes. Government agencies are ordered to deploy all lawful means to secure the border and manage illegal immigrants “swiftly, consistently, and humanely” (Hipsman, Meissner). This executive order focuses on reforming the immigration from Mexico, specifically border security on the southern border of the US. Within the order, ideas of wall construction, detention, state and local enforcement, hiring, return to country of entry pending removal decision, and new reporting requirements are included (Pierce et. al).

This act will specifically affect immigrants into the US. Firstly, there is the implication of the Border wall. The wall that is to provide a barrier on the Southwest border; a project that is estimated to cost $1.5 billion (Cowger et. al, 2).  Detention facilities are also said to be constructed near the US-Mexico border for short-term and standard immigrant detention. This would replace the previous catch-and-release policy of releasing immigrants from governmental oversight until their court date. With the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, immigrants crossing illegally would be returned to the country of entry, Canada or Mexico, to await the decision of their removal proceeding (Cowger et. al, 3).

In hand with strengthened border security, implicating a new deportation plan also has significant effects on the American economy. At total of 5.6% of industry workers in the US are undocumented; while this may not seem like a high percentage, the loss of undocumented workers in various industries would be detrimental to the industry. For example, 16.1% of the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting industries are undocumented workers (Kiersz). In the US, there are about 11 million immigrant workers.  The removal of these individuals would cost the US government approximately $400 billion to $600 billion (Davidson).  This second Executive Order demands the reform of removal priorities, state/local cooperation in immigration enforcement, sanctuary jurisdictions, hiring, and new reporting requirements (Piece et. al).  By the power of Executive Order 13768, new reporting strategies will be put into place. There will be a requirement of the collection of data on immigration status of all non-citizens in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This new executive order has led to the increase of the arrests of non-citizens from the US interior. In the span of time between January 20 and March 13, the arrests rose 32.6% from 2016 to 2017. With this skyrocket in arrests, there was also the doubling of the arrest of those without criminal records. However, the arrests of criminals increased 15% in comparison to 2016. Nonetheless, even with these increases, removals are down 1.2% in comparison to 2016 (Cowger et. al). Even with these new measure, the economy will experience the most downfall from the expulsion of undocumented workers in the US. Stephen Gross, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration stated, “…undocumented workers contribute $15billion a year to Social Security through payroll taxes. They only take out $1billion” (Davidson).


Unaccompanied minors and family units have been flocking to the US from Latin America, the Northern Triangle. Unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle are more apparent in the US than those of Mexico because they cannot be returned to their home country as easily. Those from the Northern Triangle account for more than 76,000 of the 102,000 child migrants (Pierce). This influx of people has begun to cause domestic issues as a reformation of undocumented immigrants commences. There was a surge of unaccompanied minors in 2014 that caught the attention of many (Pierce). Being effected by various push and pull factors, the arrival of unaccompanied, undocumented, minors has affected the US educational and court systems.

High levels of violence, food insecurity, and poverty are the main factors turning people away from their home countries (Ball & Rosenblum). The people of the Northern Triangle (from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) are noted to have severe troubles in their home countries due to high rates of murder in relation to drug trafficking and organized crime, and crimes that impact women and children. Organized crime is not the only concern, as the violence occurs at home in the form of domestic violence, encompassing physical, sexual, and psychological abuses. Even under these circumstances, most who immigrated did not go without reporting it to the state of their home countries. After seeking refuge and not receiving any help, the individuals look to escape to the US. “82% of Northern Triangle women subject to screening by asylum officers were found to have credible fear of persecution if returned to their home country” (Ball & Rosenblum).

Among the factors of security, many immigrate to the US because of economic factors as well. The Northern Triangle has experienced the effects of long-standing poverty and only continues to fall as the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon intensifies. Throughout the Northern Triangle, drought has pushed people into food insecurity; 13% of households in El Salvador, 25% in Guatemala, and 36% in Honduras equate to 1.5 million people in this area facing food scarcity. Political instability limits the governmental aid that can be contributed across the boards but does not allow those affected by the drought to receive the governmental aid they need. In addition, two recent presidents of countries in the Northern Triangle are facing significant corruption charges (Ball & Rosenblum). Without the pull factors the US offers, the push factors of the Northern Triangle are enough to cause large populations to immigrate to the US. The US only encourages the immigration with the severe delay in their immigration court process. They worked to treat the problem of the influx of unaccompanied minors by turning unaccompanied minors and their families to immigration courts within three weeks of their arrival; however, significant underfunding in this portion of the court system lead to more than half of cases opened in 2014, and more than three quarters of cases open in 2015, to still be pending by November 2015. The lag in court dates have made the United States a prime location.


Upon entering the US, where do unaccompanied children go and how do they affect American society? The aftermath of the immigration of unaccompanied children affects the children to the same extent as the travel to the US. Dependent on the region, they will face struggles within their new communities. These unaccompanied children, upon finding a place to live, are quickly integrated into the educational system. If found and placed into the court system, the children will only face more instability as the court system severely lacks necessary efficiency to handle all unaccompanied children.

Upon arrival to the US, unaccompanied children are likely to settle in areas with other high level of foreign-born Northern Triangle populations. Those immigrating from Mexico are often sent back automatically, but those from the Northern Triangle have the right to contest their deportation and appear in immigration court, causing a higher population of these people. Many have settled in California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and New York and within these states many are living in major metropolitan areas (Pierce).  Each state experiences specific populations of immigrants from concentrated parts of Latin America. Upon locating an appropriate home, these children usually stay with a parent, other family members, family friends, or in foster care.

The immigration court system has only worsened in recent years as the influx of immigrants clog a previously slow system, significantly affecting the unaccompanied children’s livelihoods. There has been policy placed in attempting to compact the effects of a slow court system on the unaccompanied minors.

“To manage this increase, in July 2014 the Department of Justice implemented a ‘priority docket’ to push the deportation cases of unaccompanied minors ahead of other cases in immigration courts. Officials have been instructed to ensure that the children appear before an immigration judge for their first hearing within 21 days of being charged as unauthorized” (Pierce, 4)

Even with the new policy, improvements have not been seen. The average amount of time it takes for a child to have a court date after being deemed undocumented is 1,071 days(Pierce, 1). This is over two years of waiting. When the court dates do come, many children do not appear in court, as they have been residing in the US illegally for this long.  For example, even with the implication of the priority docket, 61% percent of unaccompanied minor cases, in a 1.5-year period in 2013 and 2015, were still pending after 1.5 to 2.5 years after the cases were opened (Pierce, 5). The effects of the priority docket are non-existent. The children have only continued to reside in the country for longer and continue to become more affiliated with the US.

United States immigration policy will continue to effect Latin America in the coming years. While the future of recent Executive Orders is uncertain, the implication of the order will affect future relations. As the world becomes more globalized, questions of immigration develop into more relative topics, especially in regard to poverty. The undocumented people in the US are essential for the domestic and, in turn, global economies. Without this population the world’s strongest economy would falter. The immigration of unaccompanied minors seen from Mexico and the Northern Triangle can be controversial topics; however, it is agreeable that current policy is not the solution. New social programs to work with undocumented minors and their families would be the best solution.

The base of the economy pyramid is made up of the blue-collar workers across the country. In each state, no matter the geography, economic status, or political standings, there will always be waitresses, cashiers, and labourers. Undocumented immigrants will work in our stores and fields, to earn a living, just like everyone else. With the new immigration policy, the US will be shooting itself in the foot, if it is followed through. The deportation of millions of citizens will be costly, inefficient, and ineffective.

This policy will be costly because of the necessary governmental involvement in the detention and deportation of undocumented individuals across the country. The government must find or create a budget to remove individuals that are making mountainous contributions to the economy. Speaking theoretically, if the deportation policy continues and all the undocumented immigrants are successfully deported from the country, those who were working to detain and remove these individuals will be jobless as this is a temporary job. Other techniques, such as implementing programs that will help undocumented citizens gain citizenship would be a far more productive way to spend the money that would be required to detain and deport these individuals. By implementing a new program to aid undocumented citizens to become citizens, the economy would only grow with sustainable jobs. The increase in demand for immigration officials will create work, encouraging more US citizens to obtain higher education. When it is easier to become a US citizen, there will continue to be a demand in immigration officials as the US will seem more attractive because of the easier immigration and citizenship processes, assuming the screening process will evolve with the development of immigration policy.

A similar policy can be applied to unaccompanied minors immigrating to the United States. The immigration of unaccompanied minors has had a large impact on social systems. Providing care for these children comes at a steep price. Yet, the effects of ignoring unaccompanied minors will only worsen the problem. Many schools across the nation lack the necessary funding and programs for the unaccompanied minors who are in search of a new life. The solution to this problem lays in the push factors of their home nations. With an increase in development and the establishment of stable government, the people would not have to send their minors on a dangerous journey across nations. To find a solution to the problem of the immigration of unaccompanied minors, the search and solution must be implemented with a grassroots technique. The development of necessary social programs for domestic violence is one of many solutions to this social issue. The implication of social programs for domestic violence victims and their proprietors holds the answer to the immigration of unaccompanied minors to the US. Also, educational programs for the youth is essential to keep history from repeating itself. With the implementation of these ideas, the countries would experience more stability and will move forward economically.