Smuggling is a major problem affecting United States of America; goods, services, information, as well as people are smuggled into the country. This paper discusses the impact of smuggling of goods and people into United States of America. The paper is organized into introduction, impact of goods smuggling, impacts of people smuggling and lastly the conclusion. The paper discussed that smuggling is not good for the economic prosperity and social welfare of United States and its people.
Keywords: smuggling, people smuggling, goods smuggling, illegal trade, border security
The Impact of Smuggling on the United States and Its People
Finklea (2009) defined smuggling as the transportation and transfer of substance, objects, information as well as people illegally, that is, in violation of the applicable regulations and laws of the country. Such transportations can take place across buildings, regions, or countries. In United States of America, smuggling has a long controversial history that dates back during the slave trade era when European farmers smuggled Africans and Indians slaves into America to work in their agricultural plantations. In this country, smuggling was first recognized as a major problem during the early 16th century following the massive transportation of thousands of slaves into the country and massive goods were being exchanged across border illegally especially to European country (Diaz, 2015). This problem continues to persist in America and particularly greatly influencing its national immigration and trade policy.
A combination of several factors has persistently acted as motivations to smuggling in United States of America and they include illegal emigration, illegal immigration, tax evasion, and trade in illegal weapons, wildlife, and drugs among others. While discussing the impact of smuggling in America and its people, this paper considers two areas namely (1) people smuggling in form of illegal immigration, and (2) goods smuggling in form of illegal trade and other forms. The paper focuses on highlighting the destruction effect of smuggling to America and its people.
People smuggling can be considered as a service to those who are interested in migrating illegally to United States of America. According to a survey conducted by Keen and International Monetary Fund (2003), more than 85% of people who crossed Mexico border into united between 2006 and 2014 actually paid some fees to smugglers. In goods smuggling, merchants supply goods illegally into and out of United States of America primary to evade taxes or because the goods are illegal.
Impact of goods smuggling
In his book, Vallet (2014) highlighted the fact that good smuggling is becoming a major economic problem in united states of America leading to loss of millions of dollars annually in tax revenue. The practice is slowly transforming both national and international system as well as reconfiguring the national and internal economics and politics. In addition, goods smuggling in United States has also increased the manner in which players are upending rules as the number is steadily growing.
Gilroy (2014) argued that in the past years the economy of United States and other countries have been experiencing a boom due to the increase in goods smuggling in different spectrum such as (1) trade in counterfeit goods, (2) money laundering, trade in narcotics, (3) illegal trade in arms among others. By the end of 2015, good smuggling in United States was estimated to account for about 9-12% of her annual gross domestic product leading to huge loss of revenues in taxation. Apart from loss of revenue, goods smuggling is slowly but surely distorting the local economy, fueling conflict especially with other international economies, and leading to poorer social conditions (Fukumi, 2008). The strong social ethics of being honest and moral that defined the American’s social fabric is slowly deteriorating due to the people’s participation in goods smuggling.
From Wall Street to other financial centers across the United States of America, goods smuggling is infiltrating the economy and corrupting the structure of the free market. Even though its players can manage to evade the system and make some supernormal profits, goods smuggling in overall leads to diminishing market returns, which is not good for positive economic growth. Gilroy (2014) asserted that goods smuggling also negatively affect the country and its people by (1) reducing productivity level, (2) eroding security of the country’s institutions, (3) jeopardizing the public health, and (4) reducing incentives for legal investments.
Today, goods smuggling in United States of America has taken multidimensional form and connect various arrays of actors and networks. These networks of illicit trades create illicit pool of wealth in and out of the country by draining the licit markets. The system also undermines the interests and security of the American people in their homeland land and beyond. It has become a greater threat and leading contributor to the criminalization of the market. To the American public, goods smuggling is providing safe haven through which the people are continuously being exploited by the smugglers. To the government, it provides liquidity that makes it easily for some government official to be corrupt; with this liquidity, criminals corrupt government officials, as well as terrorists can easily mingle and transact illegal businesses with one another. With the help of the available illicit liquidity, they find it easy to upend the law and stage their operations for smuggling goods without any fear of reprisal (Vallet, 2014).
The availability of illicit liquidity through goods smuggling prevents the steadily growth fair and open markets in United States in full potential. According to Diaz (2015), this system also threatens the sovereignty of the state and jeopardizes the government operations. Over the past few decades, the worst thing that has happened in America, because of goods smuggling, is the decays in the communities; terrorist, criminals, and illicit business networks are dominating almost every facet of life thereby distorting the social fabric of various American communities. Such activities are directly endangering the community by destroying their health, safety as well as ecosystem and other vital habits. For instance, trade in illicit drugs and narcotics have led to increase in relapse rate, drug abuse, loss of productivity, criminal activities, rising costs of healthcare programmes. The greatest concern for this impact is the reducing lower age limit for initial drug use in America; in this country, children start taking drugs at younger age approximately between 4 and 8 years. On the other hand, the counterfeit pharmaceuticals smuggled into the country endanger Americans and the entire public by denying them effective treatment (Keen & International Monetary Fund, 2003).
Majority of authors including Finklea (2009), Vallet (2014), and Fukumi (2008) have underscored that goods smugglers obeys no law of the country; they only follow the law of coercion, violence, impunity, and corruption, a trend that is rapidly increasing in the American society. Economically, goods smuggling negatively impact the American economy by diverting money form the legitimate businesses across the country and put it in the hand of criminals through their large networks. This process threatens the prosperity of the American economy as well as the stability of the government. The productivity and profitability of many people who engage in legitimate businesses are reduced significantly. Largely, the government has been losing billions of dollars in national revenues and assets that could be used in financial crucial projects in the county; these funds are stashed away for private gain, a process that impairs the people’s ability to spearhead the country’s economic growth by creating necessary investments. The reality is that revenues lost through goods smuggling could be used to build more ultramodern roads, hospitals, schools and homes to facilitate commerce, save lives, educate and protect families respectively.
As explained by Finklea (2009), goods smuggling in United States also undermines the overall socioeconomic welfare as well as the social stability of the American people. Because goods smuggling diverts both revenues and economic opportunities, it directly prevents a smooth and equitable distribution of public resources to the citizens. This process leads to a substantial negative social cost. In an empirical survey by Diaz (2015), he illustrated how the criminal good smugglers are undermining the fair labor conditions in the American economy through their persistent exploitation of persons and business activities such as counterfeit goods, agricultural inputs, and narcotic cultivation among others. In United States of America, the environmental damage from illegal trade is equally damaging and has drastic negative impacts on the people and the economy.
In a study conducted by Vallet (2014), he provided empirical evidence of how goods smuggling is steadily increasing the risk of insecurity in United States and other countries across the globe. When goods smuggling begins to create criminalized markets, it starts a downward spiral steps towards higher insecurity in the country. These criminalized markets make state and market building nearly impossible thus leading to a stunted economic growth; this is the direction in which America is headed due to the increased rate of goods smuggling. Fukumi (2008) added that criminalized markets facilitate violence, which subsequently acts as a threat to peaceful trade and cooperation with other nations.
The impact of people smuggling
People smuggling is considered as the transportation or facilitation of illegal entry of persons into a country contrary to its laws. Over the past years, this process leads to steady and continuous smuggling of migrants into United States of America. Although its rise started in 19th century, today smuggling of migrants accounts for a significant portion of illegal immigration into United States of America. In most cases, most people who are smuggled into America are seeking to move into the country for search of personal betterment, economic as well as employment opportunities. Some are also seeking to escape conflict, violence, or persecutions in their homeland. While many people are illegally smuggled into united states are poor and uneducated, a good proportion also come from middle class families.
United States of America is perceived as the land of many opportunities thus people agree to be smuggled into the country for material or financial gain. An empirical research survey by Kyle and Koslowski (2013) revealed that illegal immigrants agree to pay smugglers some fees to be taken into the country. He also provided evidence of how people smugglers are exploiting illegal migrants by demanding huge fees. In some cases, illegal immigrants are forced to work in the illegal labor market operated by people smugglers. Networks of criminals, for their personal financial gains, control the flow of illegal migrants into United States. They use their networks to help the immigrant bypass the restrictive American immigration policies and tighter border controls (O’Leary, 2014).
In Mexico, many criminal organizations are using the stricter border controls as an opportunity to exploit thousands of people they smuggle into United States of America; they charge the immigrants exorbitant smuggling fees to cross them into United States. The Mexican smugglers are able to do this by placing their people on the customs positions to facilitate the movement of illegal migrants. Because the price for smuggling is high, most immigrants are unable to pay the amount at the time of departure. To repay these criminal organizations, those who fail to pay the amount fully are subjected to brutal treatment once they arrive in United States and sometimes forced labor in illegal markets such as selling drugs, merchandize, as well as participation in prostitution, which has a damaging effect on the economy and social fabrics in United States of America.
The large-scale illegal migration of people into United States of America is causing major security implications and threats in the country and beyond. The number of transnational crime organizations or groups dealing with human smuggling is steadily increasing in America and there are disturbing the peace of the country. They establish organized crimes that operate like businesses to enhance their illegal activity of smuggling foreigners into the country. The sole motivation of these criminal organizations is profit making and not humanity. Today, in United States they take up and control market opportunities, and exploit desperate people they smuggled into the country (Chin, 1999).
Another significant impact of people smuggling in United States is the rise of human right abuses. Stories of violent control and forced labor of illegal immigrant is common in United States of America. The people smugglers operate in organized criminal gangs ready to exploit their subject to the extreme in order to make huge profits. Those who do not complete paying the smuggling fees are forced to work in illegal market for meager pay or nothing at all. On the other hand, they smuggle many people into the country on overcrowded boats, vehicles, and trains; some people are even transported through cargo boats and trains. Unfortunately, many illegal immigrants are oblivious of the dangerous trips offered to them by the smugglers. However, some are even willing to travel in such dangerous as long as they make to United States of America (United States, 2006).
Increased illegal smuggling of people into United States of America has resulted in increased social and ethnic tensions. A quick background check about the people being smuggled into United States indicates that majority of them are coming from war-torn nations such as African countries. Some majority of them are escaping the oppressive regime in their countries. In addition, majority of them are coming from gang-controlled states such as Mexico. Even though their intentions for coming to united states maybe good such as escaping social and political problems in their homeland countries, they carry along these issues and traits to united states of America. For instance, they bring the experience and perspective of ethnicity that directly negatively influence the social structure of the country.
Jackiewicz and Bosco (2012) argued that an increase of immigrants from countries that experience insurgent political and economic climate increase the risk of ethnic tensions in their new residences. In addition, because of their experiences of political insurgent, they tend to bring their militant beliefs and cultures into the country thus potential of destabilizing the long-term peace and security the United States has been experiencing.
Smuggling of both goods and people is a serious problem in the United States of America. The number of illegal immigrants living in America has been increasing every year despite the tight border checks and migration policies. Majority of people who are smuggled into United States of America come from war-torn or politically unstable and less developed countries as they seek greener pastures in America. Their movement into United States is aided by the work of organized criminal smugglers who charge them fees; the smugglers consider this a high paying business opportunity. Despite the personal development that immigrant might get, people smuggling devastate the American people and acts as a waste of the country’s precious resources through illegal labor markets and tax evasion. In addition, it tears the families apart and violates the basic human right provisions.
On the other hand, the illegal business of goods smuggling is also rapidly growing in United States of America. Over the past decades, United States has been experienced increased goods smuggling in the form of trade in counterfeit goods, narcotics, illegal arms, as well as money laundering. These activities have drastic negative impacts on both economy and social fabrics of United States of America. In conclusion, even though it continues, illegal smuggling of goods into the United States presents a clear danger to the economic growth, social cohesion as well as sustainable development and stability of the country. The worst of all, it lead to massive loss of tax revenues that could be used to develop other sectors of the economy such as hospitals, schools, roads and transport system among others. It is a practice that the American government must find a way of controlling in order to continue enjoy its pride as the land of many opportunities.
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