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Human trafficking and economics

4 August 2014

I’m not a “math guy” but this makes no sense to me.  The figure bandied about for smuggling a person through Mexico to the United States has been quoted at US$ 4 to 5,000 US$ since at least 2009.

World Bank figures for Honduras show a GNI of US$ 2180.  According to the CIA’s “World Factbook”, household consumption accounts for 79.5 percent of spending leaving the “average” Honduran with US$ 446.90 in spending money.  And that figure is probably extremely higher than reality, given that these are averages, and the wealth in Honduras is even more concentrated in the “one percent” than most places (the last figures available… from 2009… show that 42.5 percent of the national wealth is in the hands of the top 10% of the population, the bottom 10% have 0.4 percent of the wealth… again CIA figures).

I understand that economic considerations are of minor concern when one is trying to save ones children’s lives, but it’s poor people who are sending their children into exile.  Poor people are more likely to make risky investments, but that’s assuming they have the money to invest:  poor people can buy dollar lottery tickets, they can’t put up 5000 US$s they don’t have.

Just roughly, it would require ten families to send one child to the United States, if the figures are at all accurate.  My sense is that “coyotage” plays a much smaller role in migration than we image; or that the “fees” are much less than reported (while the “travel expenses” — including petty bribes along the route — for migrants wouldn’t be traceable, the receipts from organized coyote networks would presumably show up as unexplained wealth somewhere… and I’m not seeing it); or, that  that media reports about the refugees are based on lazy assumptions about what is driving people to send their children abroad under the worst possible conditions and the numbers being reported in the media are pulled out of thin air.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 August 2014 8:57 am

    I wonder if the coyotes aren’t “garnishing” the incomes of the people they bring over, if these fees might only apply to people who work in fields or as sex slaves.

  2. Allen G permalink
    4 August 2014 9:22 am

    The figure, often bandied about was $4,000, to take a Chinese illegal across the border from Canada to the USA. The fee, apparently was paid for by the importers, usually restaurants.
    Nothing changes.

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