Human Smugglers Place Profit Over Safety

Trees and brush blowing in a snowstorm in the Canadian wilderness.There are a variety of reasons why immigrants may choose to leave their home country for the United States. Sometimes, these immigrants may be seeking asylum in a safer country. They may also be trying to reunite with other family members who have immigrated previously, or they may be looking for a way to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Whatever the reason, it is important to note that those who offer to help bring immigrants to the United States are often driven by money and greed and not a genuine desire to help.

In 2022, a family of four was found dead in the Canadian province of Manitoba, just shy of the United States border. This family, who was migrating from a western state of India, was attempting to cross the border during a heavy snowstorm in freezing temperatures. Investigators, both from India and the United States, believe that their deaths are related to a human smuggling scheme. Though that family didn’t make it, seven others from that same immigrant group did. Two were found in a van, while the rest were found by border patrol officers.

The Harsh Reality of Human Smuggling

With stories appearing in the news frequently about immigrant deaths, whether from the high temperatures in the desert or low temperatures in Canada, it can be hard to understand why people would continue to try to come to the United States through such dangerous means.

However, according to Jamie Holt of United States Homeland Security, smugglers will often give their clients the false pretense that coming to the United States unlawfully is easy and safe, while the opposite is actually the case.

According to court documents, one of the individuals apprehended at the Canadian border talked of having to walk in the freezing cold for over 11 hours. Another woman had to be taken to the hospital to have a partial amputation of her hand due to exposure. The man mentioned that he had paid a large amount of money to obtain a fake Canadian student visa and was expected to be taken to Chicago as part of the deal.

Why Do Immigrants Turn to Human Smugglers?

With the dangers of coming into the United States unlawfully, why do so many immigrants turn to human smugglers to help them enter?

According to criminologist Yvon Dandurand, people often turn to smugglers either because they know they would not be able to enter under visa-based immigration law. Another reason is that immigration documents can frequently take up to several years to clear the system, and many may not want to wait that amount of time.

Smuggling, though high risk, can also have a high financial reward for those who attempt it. Smugglers can charge anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per person and are willing to take advantage of the despair of others.

Though the motives of the group crossing the Canadian border are not entirely clear, immigration attorney Deepak Ahluwalia says that he’s handled many cases where a lawyer in Canada has scammed these immigrants by promising false documents. Only after the clients have paid do they receive details about their journey. Even then, those details are lost.

Ahluwalia adds, “It’s so common for a smuggling agent to just say, ‘Oh, the border is right there,’ but the agent neglects to tell you that you have to walk for two days.”

Often, the immigrants are dropped in the middle of nowhere, no matter the conditions, without much food or water for the journey ahead. Ahluwalia states, “They know that once they put you across, their job is done. They don’t really have any incentive to make sure that you end up safe.”

Immigration attorney Deepak Ahluwalia has years of experience working with the United States immigration system. If you are looking for an experienced and compassionate immigration attorney, reach out to Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law. Call us at (559) 878-4958 or contact us online to schedule your confidential case review with no obligation. We look forward to working with you!