A Tijuana, Mexico, restaurant owner pled guilty to running a smuggling ring that brought undocumented immigrants, mostly from Lebanon, through Mexico into San Diego. People-smugglers are bringing undocumented immigrants from Pakistan and the Middle East into the United States for as much as $30,000 a person.
The leader of a ring that smuggled more than 1,000 Ukrainians into the United States through Mexico was sentenced in March to 17 years in prison. The smuggling operation began in Kiev, Ukraine, where people, referred to as "merchandise," paid fees of $5,000 to $7,000 each, were provided with Mexican tourist visas, coached to say "United States citizen" without a Russian accent, flown to Mexico and escorted to Los Angeles.
Accidents are a common occurrence, even on highways far from the border, when vans carrying undocumented immigrants crash because of high speeds, incompetent drivers going the wrong way or inability to read English road signs. The injured have to be cared for in local hospitals at taxpayer expense.
In San Diego in December, six undocumented immigrants were killed and 16 injured in a wrong-way lights-off head-on crash on the interstate, and two were killed and 20 injured in another crash in March. In Bowie, Kan., in February, a van rolled over killing three and hospitalizing 15.
Near Fort Smith, Ark., in March, five undocumented immigrants were hospitalized after a head-on crash. A crash in May, caused when a tractor-trailer driven by an undocumented immigrant jackknifed in the Boston Big Dig tunnel, will cost taxpayers $500,000.
In populated areas of California and Arizona, the illegal traffic often moves through tunnels, of which U.S. officials say there may be "at least 100, if not several hundreds." A big rig will park over the U.S. end of the tunnel, and bundles of drugs are handed up through a hole in the trailer's floor.
On April 4 in a parking lot in San Ysidro, Calif., near San Diego, U.S. authorities found a sophisticated tunnel with electricity, ventilation and a $1 million pulley system. It was the fifth tunnel discovered along the San Diego County border in the past 14 months.
The federal government has appropriated $695,000 to clean up the trash and waste in southeast Arizona to cope with the environmental damage caused by this human traffic. Arizonans say they need $62.9 million and 93 more employees to repair the damage and to protect against the threat of wildfires from mountains of trash.
We certainly can't depend on Mexico to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants. In 2003 alone, U.S. authorities estimate that smugglers will spend $500 million in bribes and payoffs to Mexican military and police to protect this illicit traffic.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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