The Effect of Illegal Immigration and Drug Smuggling on Texas Agriculture: An Analysis of Hidalgo, Starr and Cameron Counties
Martinez, Kristen Alise
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Discussions on homeland security issues gained significant momentum after the attacks on September 11, 2001. While the U.S. government’s focus was directed towards minimizing terrorist threats, focus is now on our own border, especially the southern border with Mexico. Illegal immigration and drug smuggling is still a significant issue and the use of violent tactics have increased for those willing to risk it all to gain entry into the United States. There are numerous reasons why people try to gain illegal entry into the U.S. and there are also numerous ways in which the United States has tried to prevent this activity but the question remains as to how these ways affect those who live on the border. The largest portion of the U.S.-Mexico border is shared with the state of Texas. Much of this border region is land used for farming and ranching, a significant industry that contributes to the Texas economy. These farmers and ranchers who make their living off of the land are now contemplating moving elsewhere because their once peaceful life has been disrupted by illegal immigrants and drug smugglers who cut through their land on a daily basis. Some individuals have moved off of their land and into the surrounding towns and those who have stayed no longer leave their house without a gun or two. Illegal immigration and drug smuggling has significantly impacted U.S. citizens living on the border especially those located in the lower Rio Grande Valley area of Texas. This area has seen a significant increase in illegal immigration due to the boost in the Texas economy but how will the overall impact of illegal immigration impact the economy if farmers and ranchers decide to leave their land and the agricultural industry? Therefore, this article focuses on how illegal immigration and drug smuggling has impacted the agricultural industry of Texas, especially in the lower Rio Grande Valley.