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Immigration expert: Stricter border policies stand to benefit the pockets of smugglers

“When the US government makes it harder, through restrictive policies for migrants coming through, smugglers don’t stop they just put the prices up,” an immigration expert tells CBS 4.

As the Trump Administration continues to create stricter border policies, one immigration expert says those policies benefit the pockets of smugglers.

Hundreds of immigrants, come through the Catholic Charities Respite Center, in McAllen- a majority of them paying a fee to cross over.

Fredis Maradiaga left Honduras almost a month ago, fleeing the political corruption, which he says has already killed some of his coworkers.

"After the elections of 2018, politics means war," said Maradiaga.

Like many immigrants coming into the country, he is traveling with his daughter, in hopes to be reunited with the rest of his family who lives in the US.

Jenny Clark, an immigration expert, says restrictive border policies are fueling the profits of smugglers.

“When the US government makes it harder, through restrictive policies for migrants coming through, smugglers don’t stop they just put the prices up,” says Clark.

Clark says no one can travel through Tamaulipas without paying a fee to the cartel smugglers, then paying their fair share to cross over migrants.

“All the smugglers are associated in some ways now with cartels. So, we have criminalized it, we have made it much more dangerous and to an extent, that is because of stricter immigration policies,” said Clark.

According to Clark, many migrants will find a smuggler because Customs and Border Protection have used metering, only letting a few asylum seekers enter a day. Making immigrants wait weeks, even months to enter the country and seek asylum.

Maradiaga says he is lucky, the smuggler also known as a coyote, charged him half the price of others because he is a friend.

“From what I understand he charges, $6,000 to $7,000 per person, I only payed $3,000,” stated Maradiaga.

According to Maradiaga, it’s nearly impossible to cross into the US without a coyote and paying a fee to the cartels.

"Even though the smugglers might know the way, the cartels will try to take their people away and charge them double," said Maradiaga.

Giving immigrants no choice but to put their lives in the hands of smugglers, to try to reach the American dream.

Maradiaga says he hopes the President can understand why immigrants like him leave their country.

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