America’s Immigration Death Machine

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

A Texas judge recently denied bond to 28-year-old Christian Martinez, one of the two men who have been indicted for the roles they allegedly played in the deaths of 53 migrants in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. Everyone was shocked over the deaths. 

Yesterday immigration officials discovered the bodies of nine migrants who drowned while crossing the Rio Grande in an attempt to enter the United States.

Last month, the Guardian published an article entitled, “The Other Death Valley: Hundreds of Migrants Are Dying in Remote Texas Deserts.”

None of this new. It’s been going on since I was a kid growing up in Laredo, Texas, a border town — more than 50 years ago.

Oh sure, people are shocked every time it happens. But there really isn’t any reason to be shocked because it has been happening for so long. It’s like deja vu, over and over again. Deaths, followed by shock, followed by criminal indictments and punishments. And then life goes on, until it happens again, when the cycle is then repeated. 

There is one thing that everyone, especially people who go to church every Sunday, needs to understand: Deaths of innocent people are an integral part of America’s immigration-control system. They go together like thunder and lightning. Being shocked over the deaths of those immigrants is like being shocked when thunder follows lightning. 

Here is the discomforting fact, especially for everyone who goes to church every Sunday: Everyone who favors America’s system of immigration controls is favoring a system that comes with a massive amount of deaths of innocent people. 

Consider, for example, those 53 people who died in the back of that tractor-trailer in San Antonio. The reason they were being transported in that manner is because of America’s system of immigration controls. When the government criminalizes a peaceful activity, there will inevitably be a black market that forms. That’s because the criminalization of the activity gives rise to an opportunity to make money by transporting migrants illegally.

Even people who have not studied economics have to know that this is true. Why? Because the illegal transportation of migrants has been going on for decades. Anyone who pays even the smallest amount of attention to immigration issues knows that there are people who illegally transport migrants who have illegally entered the United States. Such transporters have long been referred to as “coyotes.” Everybody who lives in the borderlands knows that.

Those deaths in San Antonio are not the first time this type of thing has happened. Over the decades, it has happened many times before. Each time, we go through the same motions. People are shocked. The drivers are indicted, convicted, and incarcerated. Everyone feels good that the perpetrators have been punished. And life goes on, until it happens again, and then the cycle repeats itself: shock, punishment, and then moving on again, until it happens again.

Let me repeat the important points for emphasis: America’s system of immigration controls comes with deaths of innocent people. It’s an inherent part of the system. Everyone who favors America’s system of immigration controls is favoring a system that comes with the deaths of innocent people. 

People can be shocked as much as they like every time this type of thing happens. They can engage in endless discussions, analyses, and condemnations about illegal trafficking and “the trafficking cartels.” They can celebrate the imposition of maximum punishments on the transporters. They can praise immigrants and say we need more of them. At the end of the process, the deaths will continue so long as America’s immigration-control system remains in existence. 

There is one — and only one — way to bring these deaths to an end: Terminate America’s immigration-control system and adopt a policy of open borders. Under a system of open borders, the black-market in transportation of migrants would immediately disintegrate. No more deaths in the backs of tractor-trailers. No more deaths of people crossing the Rio Grande. No more deaths of people crossing deserts in the Southwest. There is a simple reason why there would be no more such deaths: People would now be free to cross borders like human beings, rather than like animals. 

I repeat: There is no other way to bring an end to these types of deaths. Thus, everyone, including those people who go to church every Sunday, is faced with a choice: Should he support a system that comes with deaths of innocent people or a system that comes with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? 

This first appeared on Jacob Hornberger’s Explore Freedom blog.