Due to the restrictive immigration laws in this country, many foreign nationals cannot get legal immigration help in Los Angeles unless they are upper class, as many immigration applications take years to process and hundreds of dollars.
Immigrating legally is not a realistic option for those who are older, lower-income, or uneducated in immigration law or the English language. Because of this, many immigrants choose to physically cross the border without going through the legal process.
Crossing into the United States illegally is a very profitable business for Central and South American smugglers. For foreigners who are facing violent, unsafe circumstances, or poverty in their home countries, leaving their country for another is a must. Because of the democratic government and close proximity, the United States feels like their only option.
Immigration illegally across the U.S. border requires these foreign nationals to pay huge sums and risk their lives. They must also put their trust in strangers, having no idea if they are telling the truth or if they have darker ulterior motives.
People who are smuggling others across the country put them in difficult situations, often stowing them in the trunks of vehicles in the sweltering Mexican heat. In darker cases, these smugglers rape the women that they are helping across the order, as they have physical or social control over them. In the worst of cases, the foreigners are sold into human trafficking where they are raped and/or killed.
Immigrants are also financially exploited, as they are threatened by smugglers if they cannot produce more money for hidden fees. If they cannot meet additional financial demands, they often lose a finger or an ear.
Many immigrants are willing to take the risk for the chance at a better life. A RAND Corporation study estimated smugglers profited between $200 million and $2.3 billion in 2017 by transporting Central American migrants across the border.
Dynamic Securities Analytics, a U.S.-based firm that monitors money laundering activity, found that American financial institutions profit from human smuggling as a result of fees collected for electronic transfers and other forms of payment made by migrants.
Many visa attorneys for victims of crimes in Los Angeles argue that the country’s strict immigration laws force foreigners to rely on these smugglers to achieve their American dream. With President Biden’s election, many immigration lawyers have high hopes for those who are not privileged, yet still want to immigrate.