Mexican cartels are believed to be playing a major role in the influx of children illegally crossing the southern border of the United States as part of a wider business in human trafficking.
According to The Daily Beast,
Mexico's drug gangs, along with smugglers hired by the cartels, are believed to be recruiting migrants looking for a way to enter the United States, professionalizing what was once an informal process facilitated by family and friends.
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The cartels are also making what was already a dangerous crossing even more perilous, controlling the routes migrants take, and extracting anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per person for the permission to proceed. To meet the cost, families in the United States often wire the money to the smugglers or pay installments, the Daily Beast reported.
Immigrants are often forced to wait at the border for days under the control of the smugglers, during which time they are pressured into buying desert-crossing gear.
"For those coming from Central America, just getting to a meeting place … often means riding buses or atop freight trains from southern Mexico, where they may be subjected to robbery, beatings, and getting thrown off the train by cartel lackeys," the Daily Beast reported.
"Those who make it will continue to encounter crippling fees at practically every leg of their journey to the border. Refusal or inability to pay may result in migrants being forced to carry backpacks filled with marijuana, getting kidnapped in order to extort money from their families, or being murdered on the spot."
In the case of female migrants, there is also often a high chance they could get raped along the way, either by their guide or a predator in the desert, according to the Daily Beast.
And in the post-9/11 crackdown that saw beefed up security at the borders, migrants have been forced to take more arduous routes through Mexico to avoid detection, often walking for days in the heat, over unpaved and mountainous terrain, dodging snakes, yellow jackets, and cacti. Those who get hurt or sick could be left to die in the desert, the Daily Beast reported.
With the influx of tens of thousands of migrant children from Central America, migrants are even more vulnerable to cartel manipulation and violence than native Mexicans, according to the Daily Beast, and the cartels may be responsible for the surge in unaccompanied minors from the region.
"We have grave concerns that dangerous cartel activity, including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking, will go unchecked because Border Patrol resources are stretched too thin," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security this month, requesting $30 million for additional law enforcement, the Daily Beast reported.
Since October, an estimated 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained at the U.S. borders, and Border Patrol agents say they do not have the resources to deal with the influx.
Republicans blame President Barack Obama's liberal deportation policies for the crisis and are calling for a change in the law that would enforce immediate deportation
for those who enter illegally, rather than offering them immigration hearings.
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