CBS Claims Human Smuggling At Border ‘Is More Complex’

News & Politics

On CBS Saturday Morning, host Dana Jacobson sat down to discuss the border crisis with anthropology Prof. Jason De Leon, where the duo also hyped his new book on human smuggling. Both host and author claimed the issue “is more complex” than simply viewing the smugglers as bad guys who take advantage of people.

Jacobson reported, “The business of human smuggling, according to the Department of Homeland Security, is a multibillion dollar industry, run by criminal organizations intent on taking advantage of vulnerable people. The story de Leon tells is more complex.”

De Leon differentiates between smugglers and traffickers. For him, a smuggler is working within a consensual agreement with the person seeking to cross the border, whereas a trafficker is not. He therefore claimed, “I can write a story about how they’re the bad guys in this whole scenario and all they do is brutalize migrants, but if you think about the realities, if smugglers only brutalized migrants, the system wouldn’t function, and so I went into it telling myself that, you know, what can I find that’s relatable, it’s not trying to humanize smugglers, it’s working from the assumption that they are human first and that they just happen to be in this brutal occupation.”

Jacobson then claimed that smugglers and migrants face the same set of challenges, “The low-level smugglers de Leon met said issues like poverty and gang violence had driven them out of Honduras. The same issues many migrants also face.” 

She then asked, “You talk about smuggling and think what you write, it’s violent, it exploits people, but that it’s also a symptom of a larger problem. What is that larger problem?”

That does not sound complex at all. In fact, de Leon would spend much of the rest of the time portraying smuggling as a get-rich-quick scheme. He also blamed things such as climate change for the crisis, “We need to think about why are people migrating in the first place, and you know, why does the United States have an insatiable appetite for cheap, undocumented labor that we rarely acknowledge, and as long as you need the labor and as long as climate is changing and making places unlivable, those smugglers are going to stay in business and just make more money off of this whole process.”

After de Leon warned the crisis is not going to end any time soon, Jacobson added, “A future de Leon hopes can be made easier by considering different perspectives and the humanity of everyone involved.”

De Leon concluded by lamenting, “The approaches that we’ve been using to deal with these problems have clearly been ineffective for decades and yet we just don’t seem to want to get smarter about this stuff… You can build whatever border wall you want. There are desperate people on the other side who are willing to die to save themselves, to save their family, and then there are smugglers who are willing to make a buck on that in all kinds of different ways, so that will just keep the system, kind of, going forever.”

You can’t have a policy that claims the weather being too hot is a legitimate asylum claim and as CBS itself admitted, the smugglers exploit people and subject them to possible death, so why is this complex?

Here is a transcript for the May 4 show:

CBS Saturday Mornings

5/4/2024

8:54 AM ET

DANA JACOBSON: The business of human smuggling, according to the Department of Homeland Security, is a multibillion dollar industry, run by criminal organizations intent on taking advantage of vulnerable people. The story de Leon tells is more complex.

JASON DE LEON: I can write a story about how they’re the bad guys in this whole scenario and all they do is brutalize migrants, but if you think about the realities, if smugglers only brutalized migrants, the system wouldn’t function, and so I went into it telling myself that, you know, what can I find that’s relatable, it’s not trying to humanize smugglers, it’s working from the assumption that they are human first and that they just happen to be in this brutal occupation.

JACOBSON: The low-level smugglers de Leon met said issues like poverty and gang violence had driven them out of Honduras. The same issues many migrants also face. 

You talk about smuggling and think what you write, it’s violent, it exploits people, but that it’s also a symptom of a larger problem. What is that larger problem?

DE LEON: We need to think about why are people migrating in the first place, and you know, why does the United States have an insatiable appetite for cheap, undocumented labor that we rarely acknowledge, and as long as you need the labor and as long as climate is changing and making places unlivable, those smugglers are going to stay in business and just make more money off of this whole process.

JACOBSON: It’s an industry that continues to grow as migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border hit record highs with people coming from as far away as Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

DE LEON: People are coming from around the globe. They’re coming up from South America, through the Darien Gap. It’s a window into the future as all those places become unlivable for different reasons. We’re going to continue to see that mix of people coming up from the south to our doorstep.

JACOBSON: A future de Leon hopes can be made easier by considering different perspectives and the humanity of everyone involved.

DE LEON: The approaches that we’ve been using to deal with these problems have clearly been ineffective for decades and yet we just don’t seem to want to get smarter about this stuff. I hope with this book that it’s a way to undermine the simplistic framings of what the problem actually is. You can build whatever border wall you want. There are desperate people on the other side who are willing to die to save themselves, to save their family, and then there are smugglers who are willing to make a buck on that in all kinds of different ways, so that will just keep the system, kind of, going forever.

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