Immigration Reform 2013: To End Illegal Immigration, End the War On Drugs

Immigration reform is a hot-button issue. As the immigration-reform bill passed by the Senate sits in the House, Americans have been debating the illegal immigration issue amongst ourselves. No one knows for sure how to solve the problem of illegal immigration,but there is one surefire way to prevent (or at least decrease) illegal immigration to our country in the future. While our border has become more secure in the past 10 years, Americans need to stop looking at illegal immigration in terms of "how," and more in terms of "why." 

Mexico is at war. Not with a country, but with drug cartels. The seven-year-long war has brought much violence to Mexico, with an estimated 60,000 dead through the end of last year, and as of early June, 5,000 homicides in 2013. The Mexican drug war is just as big as an incentive to leave Mexico, as the economic reasons Americans commonly think of. However, there is one way we can take power away from the drug cartels: legalizing marijuana. 

We live in an era of prohibition, not unlike the aftermath of the Eighteenth Amendment. However, just like the prohibition of the Jazz Age, the banned substance did not disappear, it was forced underground. The 1920s had the mafia, and the present day has Sinaloa and Los Zetas. By prohibiting cannabis, our government has effectively granted a monopoly to the drug cartels. This means huge business, as a study from the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness estimates that Washington and Colorado's legalizations alone will cost the cartels $1.372 billion and $1.425 respectively. 

Clearly, cannabis prohibition has many benefits to organized crime. When Americans are discussing immigration-reform issues such as border security and a "path to citizenship," they should also be discussing legalizing a certain herb. Because until we help to change our war on drugs, the Mexican drug war fueling our illegal immigration problem will not end.