This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Problem at the US-Mexico Border is More About Drugs Than People

Over the past few years violence has escalated along the northern border of Mexico, in roughly the 200 mile zone south of the US-Mexico border. The violence has almost nothing to do with undocumented immigrants coming to find work in the US, and almost everything to do with undocumented drugs coming to be consumed by people in the US. An Associated Press story reveals some of the bizarre consequences of this drug-inspired violence.

Max Pons is already anticipating the anxiety he'll feel when the heavy steel gate shuts behind him, leaving his home isolated on a strip of land between America's border fence and the violence raging across the Rio Grande in Mexico.
For the past year, the manager of a sprawling preserve on the southern tip of Texas has been comforted by a gap in the rust-colored fence that gave him a quick escape route north in case of emergency. Now the U.S. government is installing the first gates to fill in this part of the fence along the Southwest border, and Pons admits he's pondering drastic scenarios.
Pons' concerns illustrate one of the complications in the government's 5-year-old effort to build a secure barrier along the border that would keep out illegal activity from Mexico without causing worse problems for the people living in the region.
In this lush area, the Rio Grande's wide floodplain precluded building the fence right on the border so it was set back more than a mile in places, running behind the levees. The result is a no-man's-land of hundreds of properties, and the people who work on them, on the wrong side of the divide.
The United States has long had a strange relationship with our Latin American neighbors. We have perpetuated an embargo on trade with Cuba, despite the evidence that it has only hardened the resolve of the Castro regime, rather than destroying it. Most people I know have the view that free trade and interaction with Cuba would be the quickest route to changing the island's economic and political situation. The same is true with drugs coming north from Latin America into the US. We have long pretended that the problem lies in Latin America, whereas it is obvious to anyone who thinks about the situation for even 30 seconds that the problem lies squarely with the large market for these drugs in the US. If the demand didn't exist, there wouldn't be a supply and there wouldn't be cartels controlling the supply by whatever violent means they choose. And the same is true with undocumented immigrants. If there weren't jobs in the US, people would not risk their lives trying to cross the border to work in those jobs. We really need some kind of wake-up call on these issues.

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