Different sides of the border

Mark Boyer

A Frontline/World investigative report that aired on PBS last week, Mexico: Crimes at the Border, takes a look at the world's busiest land border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego. The show focuses specifically on corruption at the border, suggesting that since the Secure Fence Act was enacted and a large fence was erected at that border, illegal immigration hasn't ebbed, but border agents are increasingly tempted to take bribes. In the program, Lowell Bergman drives around with a pollero, or human smuggler, who says business has soared since 9/11. I was reading the comments section on Frontline's Web site and came across this one from a guy named Jorge Rodriguez from Mission Viejo, CA: Laws must get a lot tougher for "polleros" and corrupted border officials. Imagine the monster of a society evolving south of the border, where drug dealers and "polleros" are the rich and powerful?It's a good point – the second part, at least. Because of human and drug smuggling, Bergman describes Tijuana as one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, but conditions further inland don't sound much better. In his recent ITT feature, John Gibler finds that in the state of Zacatecas, entire villages are becoming ghost towns, which Gibler links, in part, to the impact of NAFTA on Mexican Farmers. Gibler notes the one-sidedness of the immigration debate, which addresses only the question of how many Mexican immigrants should be allowed in and what effects they have on the U.S. economy. The entire Frontline program is available online here. It's a good complement to Gibler's article.

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