Illegal Immigration
Illegal Immigration
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Why Do They Cross?
U.S. Custom and Border Protection
I guess you could say they simple reason is that they want a better life. Of course, that doesnít really encapsulate the foundational reason for what they do, since its pretty clear that everybody wants a better life. So again the question, what makes a person cross the border illegally? Iím no psychologist but Iíd say that every premeditated action a human makes could be broken down into two parts; the perceived benefits of the action, and the perceived costs of the action. I suppose I could leave it at that, obviously there is a perceived benefit to the border jumper, and it would appear that there is a low enough risk that the benefit outweighs the cost, but Iíd like to delve into this issue a bit more.

There are times where there are benefits to a certain action and the costs of that action are virtually nonexistent, but the individual will refrain. For example, a person sees a woman running around the other side of a parking lot gathering up the windblown contents of her purse. A few moments later a twenty-dollar bill blows his way. Some would pocket the twenty and go buy a lottery ticket, and some would take it back to the lady. In this example there are definite benefits, and the costs are virtually nonexistent, but nevertheless, some people will choose an action that is seemingly opposite of our simple, cost benefit formula. To illustrate this point with an historical example, think of the Alamo. For the non-Texans out there, the pertinent facts for this discussion are that many individuals chose certain death and probable defeat for an idea. Clearly, the costs were huge and the benefits negligible. It seems to me then, that there is more to this issue than simple costs and benefits. Obviously, there is some sort of internal value set that provides the individual with an additional ďinternalĒ cost or benefit to certain actions.

Of course, nothing Iíve said is earth shattering, and I doubt Iíve said anything anybody else couldnít have said. I said all of that for one simple reason; I want to be very clear with my next point: Those that cross the border illegally do not have an internal value set that would prohibit them from breaking the law.  It appears to me that an individual that is willing to knowingly break the law in order to gain some personal benefit, or even to try and benefit a loved one, is not a boon to society nor ones whose children generally become positive members of society.
U.S. Border Patrol
Center for Immigration Studies