Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wanna be an illegal alien?

Zocalo Mexico city
Zócala, Mexico City
Photo by Ari Helminen
With studies showing the state of Georgia lost close to one billion dollars last year due to their anti-immigration legislation (pdf) and are likely to continue losing that money every year, the topic of illegal aliens is a hot as ever. It's like economics: the less you know, the louder your voice.

However, in an interesting inversion of the normal discussion, the BBC has a fascinating article about American illegal aliens in Mexico and the Mexican government doesn't give a damn.

Of course, as points out, you do not want to get deported from a country. Your passport will be stamped and that will make it much harder to visit other countries when they see you've been deported and decide that they don't want to risk you overstaying your visa. However, some people are going to risk this anyway. I knew one illegal in Amsterdam who was sending a lot of money back home because the Euro was so much stronger than their home country's currency. And if you  can mange to pull off being an illegal in the UK for 14 years, you can apply for residency.

Illegal English teachers are moderately common in Asia and South American borders tend to be rather, um, porous.  I've known a few illegal aliens and I would really like to find more and chat with them. Naturally, this is not a topic which illegals naturally sit up and talk about. Plus, with all of the anti-immigration rhetoric, it's very hard to use a search engine to get good quality research results in this area. Anyone have any good recommendations for me to read? I don't want to encourage people to be illegal aliens, but it would be remiss of me to not discuss such an important topic.

Side note: I might have been an illegal once. A decade ago I was working in Amsterdam and it was never clear to me that my company had put through the right paperwork. However, I left that position because the company was awful, but I did worry about this a bit when I returned to Amsterdam a decade later. I certainly didn't intend to be working illegally, but I trusted the company which hired me. Amazingly, when I showed up at customs back in 2001, they asked why I was there and I said I had a job and they waived me through without looking at my paperwork. It was almost a letdown, given all of the paperwork I had gathered.