The USA is one of the largest importers of illicit drugs on the planet. It is also the world’s largest exporter of guns, accounting for more than 41 percent of international small arms trade in 2020. While those two things may seem unrelated, they are the primary factors leading to the flood of refugees and immigrants trying to cross our southern border.
“How so?” you may ask.
Most of those behind the illicit drug trade are members of criminal cartels in Mexico, Central America, and South America. As the drug trade has grown and become increasingly profitable, the cartels have become increasingly violent. They are not only at war with each other. They are at war with law enforcement and the military. And the citizens of those countries are caught in the middle, often being forcibly enlisted into a cartel to avoid being raped and/or murdered.
Such wars require weapons. Lots of weapons.
To obtain them, the cartels recruit gun traffickers from the US where military-style guns – everything from semi-automatic handguns to 50 caliber sniper rifles – are readily available. Thousands of them are hauled across the border into Mexico every year. And, since the Border Patrol is primarily focused on what’s coming across the border into the United States, there is little chance the traffickers will be caught.
The result is a vicious cycle. The more drugs we use, the more guns the cartels need to expand their business. And more guns equal more violence. Add in the effects of climate change resulting in severe droughts and starvation within some of those countries, and you have a perfect storm leading to a tidal wave of refugees. Of course, some say none of that should matter. The citizens of those countries should either rise up against the cartels or, if they really want to enter the US, they should get in line and apply for legal entry. But that line is extraordinarily long. It can easily take up to 25 years to legally gain entry.
Many of the applicants would almost certainly be dead by the time they received a visa.
So, ask yourself: What would you do if you were an innocent family faced with such circumstances? Would you stay and face almost certain death? Or would you try to protect your family by trying to flee to safety?
Of course, it is possible to reduce illegal immigration as so many Americans wish. But that won’t happen as a result of border control. No wall can stop it. Real change requires two things: Gun control to reduce the cartels’ access to weapons of war. And programs to decriminalize and reduce the demand for illicit drugs.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.