“America is another name for Opportunity.”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Answers at the Bottom

  • His father was an alcoholic unicyclist. His mother was a pregnant teenager and high school dropout. His mother remarried a Mexican immigrant, and the pair invested in their son’s garage business. Today, he is now the wealthiest man alive.
  • He arrived on the shores of America with a gym bag of workout clothes, eight dollars, and no English. Today, he is one of the most successful and wealthy movie stars of all time, was the Governor of the sixth largest economy in the world, and turned his $8 into $400 million.
  • He arrived from Korea to become a gas station attendant and janitor in the 1980’s. Today, he is the owner of one of the most successful clothing brands in the world and has a net worth of three billion dollars.
  • He jumped the U.S.-Mexico border wall with a borrowed one hundred dollars. He couldn’t speak English, and he got his start cleaning dog kennels. Today, he has achieved his dream of being, “the worlds greatest dog trainer,” friends with nearly every movie star in Hollywood, and a net worth of 25 million dollars.

CDLLife connected with border agents and Governor Kim Reynolds office of Iowa to discuss both how proud we are of our American officers– and about the desperate need at the border.

Hope. 

To understand the immigration crisis, one first needs to understand the sustaining power of hope. And one of the most surprising parts of investigating this story is that immigrants are largely thrilled to find Border Patrol.

This past July the U.S. Border encountered more than 200,000 immigrants for a 21 year high. As a nation, we’re on track to apprehend nearly two million immigrants by the end of the year. That’s enough people to equal more than the fourth largest city in the United States.

Border Patrol has encountered citizens from 150 countries, that have gone through tremendous hardship: Many have walked the 6,000 miles up to the border, are indebted to their communities for their passage, and have endured horrors that are difficult to describe.

CDLLife connected with Sjt. Smidt of the Iowa State Patrol. Recently, they returned from a tour Governor Kim Reynolds sent them on. She sent 27 troopers down to the border as part of Operation Lone Star to aid the Texas Border Patrol. 

During a press conference discussing their time on the border, Iowa troopers talked about how proud they are of the kindness they showed to the immigrants they encountered. Captain Mark Miller shared in a press conference:

“But what we found is that when people saw us they were smiling. They reached their hands out to us to pull them out of the river. The relief that was there.”

Captain Miller was so proud of the acts of kindness and generosity from the officers at the scenes– 

  • Officers put little kids in their patrol cars to let them sleep in air conditioning, while they waited for processing.
  • They got families food and diapers that the troopers went and purchased. 
  • Troopers bought a case of flip flops in case they ran into people that didn’t have shoes. 
  • On one occasion they saved a woman so severely dehydrated that medics said that she was an hour from death when the troopers found her. 
  • On another occasion, they rescued a minor from sex trafficking. 
  • They found MRE’s (military food rations) to feed people.

But the Captain also recounted that the things immigrants had endured were horrific: 

“Coyotes used women like a piece of meat.” While they were on the border there were, “66 known deaths from the elements. 24 drownings.” They were sent to look for immigrant bodies in the river. Rattlesnakes are a problem. The Coyote-guides leave people to die in the desert. 

Because people from 150 countries coming into the United States know what law enforcement means. It means real hope.

Struggle

It’s not hard for these immigrants to contrast American hospitality and kindness with what they endured all the way to our border: 

*Facts courtesy of a Homeland Security Agent that connected with this CDLLife reporter.

They pay dearly for their passage: There are reports of Cartel salesmen approaching citizens with pitches about going to America. The market is currently at the competitive price of $15,000 a head. 

They borrow from every person they know to get that money. They know that if they can make it, then they will be able repay them– to even provide for their families back home.

The most troubling part of the current Border Crisis is that each person represents money in the pockets of the Cartel. 

95 percent or more of immigrants use a Coyote to make the U.S. crossing. If one multiplies that $15,000 figure by the two million people that Border Patrol will apprehend by the end of the year, then it is easy to project the billions of dollars that will line Cartel pockets. 

“Every year, more than 5 million cars, 1.5 million commercial trucks and 3.8 million pedestrians cross northbound from Mexico into the United States here, bringing with them a ton of hidden narcotics,” CNN reports.

Many immigrants that cannot pay, especially minors, are forced to become drug mules. That is having devastating consequences for the entire country.

Governor Kim Reynold’s office sent CDLLife the following statistics:

  • Iowa specifically saw 523 grams of fentanyl seized between January and May 2020. 
  • Over that same time period in 2021, roughly 6,641 grams of fentanyl was seized – an increase of 1,148%. 
  • 93% of heroin found in our country was originally smuggled across the Southern border.  

As a country, we are dealing with an opioid crisis that is causing deaths equivalent to the war in Vietnam… every single year. And those are pre-pandemic numbers.

This is a truly wonderful country, filled with kind people and law enforcement that we can trust. As Prime Minister Tony Blair once famously said, “A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in… And how many want out.”

But the rise of opioids is tearing this country and its families apart. 

For instance, how much crime in the greater Baltimore area is due to drugs? “‘Upwards of 85%.’ Those numbers apply across our state,” according to Attorney Scott Shellenberger from the Baltimore Sun.

We need to get truly serious about both caring for our neighbors and our nation. Pretending like there isn’t a problem at the border is just ludicrous as pretending like there isn’t global suffering that we can help aid. 

Let us say with Lady Liberty, 

“Give me your tired, your poor, 

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

But let us also be prepared to filter out the very issues that immigrants are fleeing from.

ANSWERS:

Jeff Bezos

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mr. Chang

Cesar Milan

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