The Effects of Migration to Illegal Drug Trafficking in the US-Mexico Border as a NonTraditional Security Issue

Doni June V. Almio Political Science 180 October 12, 2010 Professor Brian C. Ventura

Migration as a Nontraditional Security Issue There are a lot of concepts when it comes to international politics. One of which is migration or the movement of people throughout the world. However, migration is not simply the movement of people, it is “a change in residence” (White and Woods 1980, 3). If we look at Encarta, migration is defined as “the act or process of moving from one region or country to another.” Migration is defined by Lasker and Mascie-Taylor (2009, 1) as a “geographical displacement of people: changes of residence involving introduction of individuals into a different locale.” As we see, there are a lot of definitions of migration, but if we look at these definitions, we will see that there is something similar among these definitions. All definitions talk about settling in the destination country. When it comes to migration, there are two sides in which people must look at. Migration can be considered as immigration or emigration. Immigration refers to the settling of people in their destination country while emigration talks about people depart from their country of origin. People would plainly look at migration as if it‟s the movement of people only. Migration would often be identified with the purpose of “earn money, to be paid in remittances to family at home” (Mallee and Pieke 1999, 30)”. Migration is always considered to be done because of purely economical reasons or even family reasons such as reunification with relatives. However, migration is not totally about the plain movement of people for family and monetary reasons. Migration serves as a threat to a state‟s security. When we talk about a threat to a state‟s security here, we are not talking about using military power to take over states that are weaker. The security issue that we are talking about here is the non-traditional security issue. What are nontraditional security issues? In order to define non-traditional security issue, it must be first distinguished from the one that is called

traditional security issue. Traditional or conventional security issue is defined in conditions of “geopolitical terms and confined to relationships among nation states, dealing with issues such as deterrence, the balance of power, and military strategy” (Wang n.d.). Basically, traditional security is confined on military threats on security of a state. The difference when it comes to non-traditional security (NTS) is that NTS is concerned on nonmilitary threats to security. Traditional security issue and non-traditional security is often differentiated in terms hard and soft. It is stated that “security comprises aspects of non-traditional or soft security, in addition to the established hard or military security” (Dosch 2006). Nontraditional security issue is a new concept as compared to the traditional security issue. According to Fukumi (2008, 22), nontraditional security issue just came about after the year 1989. Basically, it would be the period after the cold war. Even though it‟s a new concept, it is described by Wang (n.d.) that there is an: “increasing number of NTS threats, nationally, and internationally, arising from very different fields such as financial turmoil, internet hacking, ecological degeneration, drugtrafficking, nuclear proliferation, new terrorism and even SARS, all of which have never before in the course of human history had such serious impact on any individual country or international community.” Migration is one of the things that are considered to be a nontraditional security threat to a state‟s security. This paper talks about migration as a non-traditional security issue particularly in the case of US and Mexico specifically on how migration is used in drug trafficking.“Leaving apart the traditional military thinking about international security issues resulted in identifying the non-traditional security threats. International migration has become one of them in the recent decades” (Kicinger 2004, 1). Migration is considered to be a nontraditional security issue because it threatens the security of states. Kicinger (2004, 2-3) said that migration can be a threat to the security of states in the following aspects:

“1) social stability may be at risk when the inflow of immigrants is combined with the rise of xenophobia, lack of integration; 2) International migration can influence the demographic security (high rates of emigration might deepen the process of declining and aging of population, especially in Central and Eastern European countries); 3) International migration can pose a risk to cultural identity which might be illustrated by the so-called “headscarves affair” in France as an example or by the rising popularity of extremist right-wing parties in response to high immigration levels; 4) International migration can pose a threat to social security system and welfare state philosophy - people might not be willing to pay high taxes if they do not feel that the other do the same and share the same values which is true in case of economically inactive immigrants and asylum seekers living on social benefits (Goodhart 2004); 5) International migration might be a risk to internal security which is illustrated e.g. by the crime levels among the immigrants that are higher than among the native population; international crime networks dealing in drugs and arms; trafficking in human beings or, last but not least, terrorists using both legal and illegal migration channels to penetrate the country. One example where migration is considered to be nontraditional security threat to the security of states is what is happening in the USMexico border.”

The Effects of Illegal Drug Trafficking Caused by Migration in the US-Mexico Border

The Effects in US For many years now, the illegal migration has been quite a problem in the US-Mexico border. Mexicans would cross the border illegally to reach US. There are a lot of illegal immigrants that cross the US-Mexico border every year. As a matter of fact, according to Martin (2007, 442), there were 41,732,881 deportable Mexican aliens by the year 2003. This serves as a great problem for the US because these illegal immigrants are taking advantage that are meant for the citizens of and legal immigrants in the US. However, more than taking advantage of other services, migration has been used to traffic and distribute drugs in US. The illegal immigrants

bring drugs such as marijuana and cocaine and heroin. “It would appear that the illegal migration problem is also tied to the drug trafficking problem. The trips of the literally hundreds of socalled illegal „mules‟, illegal aliens carrying drugs and attempting to enter the United States are facilitated each week by the Mexican drug cartels” (Bailey 2008, 25). In this line by Bailey, we can see that illegal migration is binded with drug smuggling or trafficking. It is even organized by the drug cartels or criminal organizations in Mexico. People would think that there‟s no harm in trafficking and culturing drugs, as long as the migrants keep the illegal drugs and use it for themselves. However, that is not the case in the US. Except for the fact that the illegal immigrants also use these harmful drugs, the illegal drugs that are brought by illegal immigrants are not kept but are cultured, distributed, and sold to the public. Basically, what happened is that these drugs make people violent that makes them commit undesirable things such as crimes and other transgressions. In the book of Richard Worth entitled Illegal Drugs: Condone or Incarcerate, he quoted US President Richard Nixon by saying that “drugs had become a growing menace to the general welfare of the United States” (Worth 2009, 37). One of the border state between US and Mexico is Arizona and it serves as one of the destinations of the illegal immigrants. There are a lot of drugs going in together with the illegal immigrants in Arizona. As a matter of fact, “Arizona‟s governor even stated that, „the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels, and they are bringing drugs in.‟” (Males and Macallair 2010, 2). The crimes are linked to the illegal drugs that are brought by migrants especially in states along the border namely Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico. The crimes caused by the illegal drugs that are distributed by migrants are giving a lot of problems to the state. It threatens the well being of the people of the US. It seems that the safety of the people are endangered because of the violent crimes that

serves as one of the effects of the illegal drugs brought by migrants. By threatening the people of the state, the crimes caused by the drugs are threatening the state‟s security. It is because the people is part of the state, therefore it follows that when people‟s security are threatened, the state‟s security is also threatened. Another thing that makes migration as a non-traditional security issue in the US is the large spending of US when it comes to the the things caused by illegal drugs that was brought by immigrants. The US must try to control the crimes and other transgressions caused by the illegal drugs caused by US. US is spending a lot of money because of the effects of these drugs brought by illegal immigrants. As a proof, it is even stated that “the United States prohibits a range of drugs, and the attempt to eliminate drug use has escalated into a „war‟ that costs tens of billions of dollars each year.” (Miron 2003, 2a). Judging from what Miron said, it seems that the effects of illegal drugs are costing the government of US a lot. Because of this large spending, it seems that the money that must be added to more important things such as education, and health are placed for the budget for drug control. According a source, “drug abuse cost society more than $143 billion in 1998” (Miron 2003, 2b) and according to McDonald and Finn (2001, 12),“the cost of illicit drug use is thought to amount to more than $98 million”. These are quite large amounts of money that the government spends in order to counter drug related violence and crimes. If we look at it, it‟s an alarming amount of money, knowing that this money is spent for drug-related violence. Economically speaking, by allotting more money on the effects of drugs brought by the illegal immigrants, USA is giving lesser money to other things. Because of this, the assurances of the services of other things that must be given more monetary importance are undermined, thus, making the large spending of US for the effects of drugs brought by illegal immigrants a non-traditional security issue.

Effects in Mexico Unlike in the US, the effect of migration in Mexico is more on the emigration side, or the exit of people from the state. If there are consequences on the side of the destination country, which is US, there are also consequences in the country of origin, which is Mexico. As discussed earlier, the Mexican drug cartels are the ones who control illegal migration that is tied with drug trafficking. Mexico strengthened their policies toward illegal emigration in the US. Because of this, the drug cartels can‟t traffic drugs and people from Mexico to the US. This step of the Mexican government somehow increased the violence of the drug traffickers, which use migration, toward the Mexican government. According to Williams(2009, 2) “the violence in Mexico has grown as the Mexican government moved from acquiescence and even tacit support for the drug trade under the PRI to confrontation with the traffickers by the PAN Presidents, Fox and Calderon”. The shift in the ruling political party in Mexico became the reason why policies toward drug trafficking tied with illegal migration changed. A change that was focused on directly dealing with migration and its drug trafficking scheme but because of this many Mexicans were killed to stop the policies of the government. Basically, what is happening here is that violence is caused by migration that is tied to illegal drugs because of the policies of Mexico towards it. The migration that is tied with trafficking caused increase violence and a lot of killings in Mexico that somehow made migration, in this case, a nontraditional security issue. Another thing that made migration a nontraditional security issue us that the people of Mexico‟s safety are threatened because of the violence happening in Mexico. The enhanced campaign of the government against migration tied with drug trafficking is focused in the near border areas of Mexico. This makes the near border Mexican communities a good target for the

violence of the facilitators of the illegal migration that is tied with drug trafficking. Because of this, a lot of people migrate to the near border states of US to escape the danger of the violence in Mexico. In the April 2010 article in Fox News, Ed Barnes (2010, Fox News) wrote that “No one doubts that they have a strong claim. Their town on the Mexican side of the border is under siege by one or more drug cartels battling for control of the key border crossing. According to Mike Doyle, the chief deputy sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas, one of the cartels has ordered all residents of the town of 10,000 to abandon the city within the next month.” Basically, the effect of violence in defending emigration from Mexico to US is a non-traditional issue because it threatens the security of the people of Mexico. Conclusion As proven by the arguments presented in the paper, migration is indeed a nontraditional security issue. Even though there is no use of any military force, migration threatens the security of the state. In the case of US, immigration is a nontraditional security issue because it is used in drug trafficking and the drugs that are brought by migration cause violence among the citizens of US. Another thing is that the effects of the drugs brought by illegal immigrants lets the US spend a lot of money that would make it better if it is placed in the education and health budget. In the case of Mexico, emigration is a nontraditional security issue because it is protected by drug cartels that use violence in order to protect it. Moreover, migration is a nontraditional issue because it also threatens the security of Mexicans that make them leave Mexico.


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