Cross-posted from the other site.
The Village Voice has an enragifying article on kidnapping in Phoenix. You really should read the whole thing.
Phoenix is labeled the kidnapping capital of the United States because of people- and drug-smuggling out of Mexico. It’s a catchphrase that politicians like U.S. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona use to alarm voters into buying the get-tough-on-illegals policies they’re selling. But it’s the smuggled immigrants—not the general public—who overwhelmingly are the primary victims.
In 2008, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, there were 368 reported kidnappings in Phoenix, up from 160 in 1999. Almost all of the abductions were inside the smuggling world. In 2008, IIMPACT detectives worked 63 kidnapping cases, investigated 49 drop houses, and arrested 129 human smugglers.
What happens in these cases if horrifying. If people choose the wrong “coyotes” to smuggle them into this country, the can be killed, raped, tortured and/or held for ransom:
They’re known to beat and torture victims while family members listen on the telephone. The torment continues for as long as it takes to get the money, until hostages die from their injuries, or—in the rare instance—until the police burst in and free them.
Kidnappers kick and punch hostages, beat them with baseball bats, submerge them in bathtubs and electrically shock them, burn their flesh with blowtorches, smash their fingers with bricks, slice their bodies with butcher knives, shoot them in their arms and legs, and cut open their backs with wire-cutters. The kidnappers usually video-tape the sexual humiliation and violence and send the images to family members if ransoms aren’t paid.
The authorities are doing their best to crack down on it, but they are fighting a losing battle against the tide of illegal immigrants. And laws like Arizona’s 1070 are making the problem worse by diverting resources and keeping illegals from going to the police for fear of deportation:
Besides, law enforcement authorities, including Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, think 1070 will make it even harder for cops to do their jobs. Already, the victims of smugglers are reluctant to report crimes to police. If all of 1070 goes into effect, even more violent crime will operate under the radar of law enforcement.
The Pearce-inspired statute, many cops say, will only make departments, particularly Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s, go after law-abiding illegal aliens (maids, gardeners, tree trimmers, restaurant workers) all the more, leaving violent smugglers to carry on as usual.
Of course, the thing that has driven illegals into the arms of the coyotes is the lack of an easy legal way to get into this country for temporary or seasonal work. Faced with violence and poverty in Mexico, they do what any human being in his right mind would do — try to go somewhere better. But going somewhere better in a legal way involves massive paperwork, oceans of time and big piles of money — all to be most likely denied in the end.
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the federal agency that processes U.S. permanent residency applications, is just now working on applications filed in 1994 by Mexican nationals seeking visas or green cards. These people who followed the rules have already waited 16 years.
Federal law allows 26,260 people from Mexico to receive visas each year. There are more than 1.1 million Mexicans on a waiting list.
What would you do in their situation? If you could not find work and you had a family to feed? What would you do?
Stories like this are one of the biggest reasons I am strongly in favor of immigration reform. Not amnesty — people who broke the law should not be the first to get legal status — but a massive overhaul of the system. The cornerstone of this has to be a program to make it easy for people to come into this country for temporary or seasonal work (a guest worker program by any other name). My justification of this is below the fold.