Illegal immigrants + Mexican border.

Mexican citizens who want to visit the US can get a Border Cross Card or “laser visa”. Why doesn’t the illegal immigrants just get one of those, go to the US and then stay? Why do they creep around at night, climb fences (the fence is not very long, BTW)?

I tried that second link, but the page wouldn’t load.

I suspect that they don’t give those cards out to just anyone, and they may also charge money for them - money the illegals don’t have.

Just a guess.


There is more, but it seems as if it would just as easy for them to get a tourist visa (B2) as for any other visitor.

Correct. The criteria are pretty much the same as for a B-1/B-2 business or tourist visa - you have to show intent/motivation to leave the U.S. at the end of your authorized period of stay. Oddly enough, in my time working in immigration court, I saw many more people overstay tourist visas than overstay the 3 days allowed by the Border Crossing Card.

So - a guy with the intention of making it big in the California agricultural business of strawberry picking should really just get one of those laser visas, enter the US and then fail to return (or just stay the allowed 30 days), rather than trying to cross the border at night. Why don’t they?

And for that matter - Nafta let’s American companies employ Mexicans. There are some forms to fill in, but it doesn’t seem to be much trouble.

Perhaps a migrant worker from a poor rural area of Mexico wearing shabby clothing and with very little money or personal posessions and nothing in the way of a home address, phone number, etc., would have a tough time convincing anyone that he had strong family, business, or social ties?

In addition to paying the $100 fee, a Laser Visa applicant has to provide all kinds of documentation showing that he or she has no incentive to disappear into the United States. Each applicant gets interviewed by a US consular officer, who is going to demand proof of employment, proof of residence, utility bills, affadavits and anything else that the consular officer decides he needs. While I’m sure some number of Laser Visa holders do overstay, it seems like a lot of effort for someone looking to illegally stay in the US when there are easier ways of getting across the border.

Actually, the primary reason is that if you enter the US legally on some tempory permit, and then don’t leave the US when you’re supposed to, you ruin any possibility of future, legal residency.

If you enter illegally and are caught–either crossing or later on–you say your name is “John Doe,” they take you to Tijuana, and there’s no record to bar future possibility of legal, permanent stay.

NAFTA doesn’t have anything to do with it. NAFTA allows trade of goods, not employees. You have to have U.S. citizenship or qualify under a long list of special categories to legally work in the United States, none of which (yet) apply to your average Mexican laborer.

What allows American companies to employ Mexicans is the U.S. government’s refusal to enforce the law.

Not entirely true. Detained illegal aliens are fingerprinted and photographed, and this along with any other identifying information is checked against both IDENT (the Homeland Security database of previously detained illegal aliens) and IAFIS (the FBI’s criminal database). Should the illegal immigrant attemp to obtain a visa in the future, their prints would be on file and they would likely be identified and denied.

This is not, strictly speaking, true. NAFTA absolutely contained special provisions for Canadians and Mexicans to work in the US. The key, however, is that it specifies “professionals,” which would indeed exclude your average migrant labourer.

Here is the relevant text and this is the full Nafta text. A quick read seems to say that if a person has a bachelors degree in teaching, that person could be qualified to work as a Spanish tutor/nanny in a private home.

I daresay “Juan Doe” would be more likely.

[sub]When will you say yes to me? Juan Doe, Juan Doe, Juan Doe, Juaaaan Doooee[/sub]

I stand corrected. However, 99% of the border crossers stand no chance of getting in legally under a provision of NAFTA.

Really? Thanks for the tip. I’ve gotta look out.

Things have changed a lot, haven’t they?
Damned Homeland Security!

Another important note - even if a Mexican citizen had the necessary educational qualifications, entering the U.S. under one of the NAFTA work visa categories still requires an advance job offer from a U.S. employer.

It’s also worth pointing out that Mexicans working for American companies in Mexico are paid Mexican wages … which is why those factories are there to begin with.

Even though the vast majority of undocumenteds working in the US are paid less than minimum wage, they’re still making more than they would at home … which is partially why they make the trip to begin with.

Well… the Mexican government does limit the rate at which the company can pay. Yeah, they cap it, otherwise the entire economic situation of an area can be upset.

Now the more interesting question is which Mexicans are the ones that cross the border illegally? The greatest numbers are not from industrialized towns where there’s plenty of work; they’re from the country, the peasants. It’s also recognized by non-extremists within Mexico that it’s a cultural and generational problem, i.e., everyone in the family goes “up there” because everyone else in the family has already gone. If it weren’t for this self-closing circle, the vast majority would do what we (the Americans) did as we industrialized – move from the country to the cities. There are plenty of jobs. Yeah, they’re low paying, even less than the US minimum wage. But you can live on a lot less money in Mexico. The majority of Mexicans that go to the states could live better in Mexico in the cities. But when you’re as family oriented as the Mexicans and your choice is to go to the city with no relatives or the USA with your entire family, then where do you go?

Well I don’t pretend to know the minds of other Mexicans, but my fiance was scouted by an American that went around gathering young men (he was twelve) to work for his Big American Business where he could Get Rich. What really happened is he was taken across the border in a bus (he doesn’t know how they got across but guesses someone was paid off at the border) stuck on a farm in West Virginia doing work for very little money and since he spoke no English and was told he could be taken to jail by Immigration if he left the farm he was forced to stay. (there are many details here I won’t bore you with)He was paid mostly in room and board with about a dozen other young men. He worked there until he was sixteen and somehow found a way out with some of them, and ended up going to Florida to pick tomatoes. Since he’s strong and learns fast, he then found a job in construction making a bit more money, learned English, and made his way to Memphis. For about eight years he sent money home to his
sisters to get their farm into shape and planned to go back so they could finally have a decent life. Now that he’s here though, he’s fallen in love with the country (and me!) and doesn’t really want to return. He has friends here and extended family and knows he might be able to live well with hard work and persistence.

He says that in Mexico you can live on less money, but you’re just living. There’s nothing but working on those farms where he grew up, and the cities are way too dangerous for children. When he was eight years old, his parents abandoned him to a Catholic orphanage in Mexico City because they were not longer able to care for their fourteen children (dad was violently abusive too) and he was sent to work (yes at age eight, and yes BY the church for their own financial gain). He was introduced to gang life and saw that scout as the only escape.

I’m not saying it’s like this for every illegal immigrant, but just showing another reason why they come here.