Perhaps it is time to shift our attention from the problems with our South border, and focus more on security at our border with Canada. The fact that an illegal immigrant from the Czech Republic was caught trying to swim across the Detroit River to reach Michigan (after having been previously deported) as unbelievable as it may be, is still worrying.
Michigan’s border is unquestionably porous, and it is not by harassing foreigners with appropriate documentation who travel by car to Canada that we will prevent illegal immigration into the United States. Proof of this situation is the fact that last week’s Czech swimmer was not the first undocumented visitor trying to cross from Windsor into the US.
According to an anonymous post on the online publication ViveleCanada.ca, there are literally “hundreds of unguarded roads between Canada and the United States… and [that] the cost of turning each crossing into a fortress would outweigh the benefits”. (June 21, 2011).
The United States shares a 4,000 mile long border with Canada, and the Detroit River is proving to be as much of a gateway for illegal immigration as the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo in Spanish) is to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California.
For those who believe that illegal immigration is a unique problem to the United States, it is interesting to mention that Mexico faces a similar problem along its 597 mile long Southern border with Guatemala. Mexico and Guatemala share along their borders two rivers: The Suchiate and the Usumacinta, just as porous and as much of a headache to the Mexican government as the Rio Grande is to our Southern states — and now apparently as the Detroit River to Michigan. Every year, 300,000 undocumented workers from Central and South America attempt to cross Mexico’s Southern border through 72 points along the rivers that have to be monitored day and night by the Mexican authorities.
However, Mexico’s most recent immigration laws are very different from those in the United States, in particular when compared to Arizona’s SB 1070. As of 2011, illegal immigrants crossing into Mexico are not considered criminals. They are protected by the Human Rights Commission, which now has legal authority in the country beginning July 1, 2011. Therefore, it is now illegal in Mexico to discriminate against undocumented immigrants, who are given 24 hours to prove their legal status in Mexico before they are deported. Being an illegal immigrant in Mexico is now considered only a misdemeanor. The new laws also contain special provisions for the most vulnerable immigrants, such as minors, the elderly, women, teenage girls, crime victims, or those who are sick.
According to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press most Americans support tighter controls at the borders, but at the same time they also encourage the creation of a path towards citizenship for those undocumented workers who meet the necessary requirements. According to Pew, 57% of Americans disapprove of amending the Constitution to strip illegal immigrants’ children of citizenship.
In view of last week’s news, perhaps it would be advisable to increase monitoring of the Detroit River as well, and hope that our government will finally come up with an immigration policy at national level that will protect everyone.