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Immigration Controls Bring Death and Misery

Noemi Alvarez Quillay 

Twelve-year-old Noemi Alvarez Quillay is dead. She committed suicide. She was making her second attempt to journey from Ecuador to New York City to reunite with her parents, who had illegally come to the United States to better their lives when Noemi was a toddler.

The New York Times writes:

A bashful, studious girl, Noemi walked 10 minutes across dirt roads that cut through corn and potato fields, reaching the highway to Quito. She carried a small suitcase. Her grandfather Cipriano Quillay flagged down a bus and watched her board. She was 12. From that moment, and through the remaining five weeks of her life, Noemi was in the company of strangers, including coyotes — human smugglers, hired by her parents in the Bronx to bring her to them.

Noemi was part of a human flood tide that has swelled since 2011: The United States resettlement agency expects to care for nine times as many unaccompanied migrant children in 2014 as it did three years ago.

For these children wandering thousands of miles, it is a grueling journey, filled with dangers. The vast majority come from Central America. Noemi’s trip was about twice as long. She had already tried once, leaving home last May, but was detained long before she even made it halfway.

Noemi’s first attempt to come to the United States ended in Nicaragua. The second time she made it as far as Juarez, Mexico. But Mexican officials caught her before she could cross the border.

Depressed and disconsolate, the young girl hanged herself in a bathroom in the shelter in which she was being held.

If it hadn’t been for U.S. immigration controls, the girl would still be alive. That’s because she would have traveled to the United States like a normal human being — by bus, train, auto, or plane. She would never have been dealing with “coyotes,” the name given to transporters of illegal immigrants.

In fact, it’s immigration controls that have given rise to the big illegal-immigrant transportation business, which inevitably involves unsavory characters who are out to make a quick buck and couldn’t care less about the well-being of their customers. It’s different, of course, with bus companies, airlines, and other legal transportation services.

It’s somewhat amusing to see federal prosecutions indignantly prosecuting coyotes for their crime. I wonder how many of those prosecutors realize that it’s the federal government, through its immigration laws, that has given rise to the coyote industry that it then turns around and prosecutes.

(This phenomenon, of course, is similar to the federal drug war. The feds make drugs illegal, which gives rise to illegal drug sellers, who the feds then spend much of their time indignantly prosecuting.)

Of course, immigration statists would say: “Well, her parents didn’t have to come here to improve their lives. They could have stayed home and continued wallowing in poverty and misery.”

But bettering one’s economic condition is part of human nature, especially when there are children involved. Throughout the world, there are people who will do anything to better their own lot in life and the lot of their spouse and children. It’s just a fact of life. And no immigration laws or immigration walls are going to prevent such people doing that.

Open the borders to the free movements of people. Leave people free to come to the United States to travel, trade, tour, invest, and open businesses, and liberate Americans to travel, trade with, and visit overseas countries. Open borders are consistent with the Christian principle of loving one’s neighbor as thyself. They are consistent with the Golden Rule of treating others as you would have them treat you. They are consistent with the principles of economic liberty. They are consistent with economic prosperity.

What a tragedy. As a consequence of U.S. immigration controls, a 12-year-old girl is dead after trying to reunite with her parents, who were just trying to improve their lives. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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