If you've lived in the United States, there is a pretty good chance that you have witness an obnoxious heated argument about illegal immigration. Am I right?
It is true that In "the melting-pot" that is the US, immigration is a widely and openly discussed subject; even by those who are completely unqualified to speak of the issue.
But let me tell you a secret that may surprise you:
Americans reach out to me on a daily for advise on how to bypass immigration regulations when traveling to Mexico.
Are you surprised?
In the past six months I have been working in the busiest international boarder-crossing in the world: San Diego and Tijuana. It´s messy, crowded and slow.
Everyday, I am asked by hundreds of American travelers how to avoid paying their Mexican tourist permits.
Now, this permit isn't hard to obtain, you request it at the crossing and it costs an average of $25 USD.
"If I use this boarder-crossing will I be stuck paying the Mexican tourist fee?" is a common question,
BUT these complaints are common too:
"I was forced to pay a fee to bribe the Mexican immigration police" or,
"He [immigration officer] basically wanted to pocket the money..."
Because many American tourists going into Mexico don´t take the precocious of learning about the documents that they are required to have when crossing this international boarder, Americans tend to believe that they are being robbed by Mexican police.
In a way, this is fair assumption, as the Mexican police do have a reputation as the bribery-kings. Yet this assumption is quite an insult for immigration officials, who are actually just doing their job.
For a country, as the US, that so widely and openly speaks up against illegal immigration, it is ironic that when its citizens travel abroad, not only do they not inform themselves about immigration laws abroad, but when they do, such a large number of Americans seek ways to avoid what is a simple and affordable immigration document.
Did you know that for a Mexican citizen to come into the US, not only do they have to
a. get a passport,
b. apply for their tourist visa in advance,
c. pay the fees for this process,
d. attend an interview, BUT ALSO,if approved, they must
e. pay for another permit (called the I-94 permit for those who are skeptical) once they actually touch US soil
Now talk about a complicated immigration process!
I witness Americans who will deliberately enter Mexico through the "MEXICAN NATIONALS" line in order to avoid paying for their tourist permits. I even heard a girl, as early as last night, scream "you guys are dumb," to her friends, who went through the FOREIGNERS lane in order to enter Mexico legally.
Yes, illegal immigration is real, but it is also a two-way street...Interestingly ironic, isn't it?
Colombian, living and traveling the world (well- not so much at the moment) I am currently sharing my time between San Diego, CA and Albuquerque, NM.