Human Population in El Paso
Population Explosion in El Paso and Juarez
Globalization is well in full force. The increasing population explosions in El Paso and Juarez Mexico show that international business and economic developments are encouraging people from the interior of Mexico to flood into border towns and eventually into the United States. What has resulted, however, is chaos partly because the two towns do not have proper legislation or budgeting to deal collaboratively on this shared population problem.
The population of both towns is exceeding their capabilities. According to the research, "The Juarez-El Paso population of 2 million makes up the largest border community anywhere in the world, expanding more than 5% a year," (Padgett 2001 p 1). This growth is unmatched in other American and Mexican cities. The two cities together had a population of two million in 2000 (Casey 2006). That number is estimated to explode to a population of 6 million by 2025 (Casey 2006). Yet, the two cities are not equipped to handle such a population explosion, and need future direction in order to protect their citizens' health and businesses.
There are a wide variety of nonliving and living factors that contribute to or are affected by the problem. First and foremost, there is a huge lack of available water for the desert towns. The current water systems available are only able to sustain a population of 4 million between the two towns (Casey 2006). Yet, this population is estimated to rise well above that number. The cities right now are unable to provide enough clean drinking water to their residents. Additionally, there is horrible air quality based on the increased number of production plants, the desert environment, and rampant pollution.
Still, there are some positive human impacts this phenomenon is proving to have. First, the explosion of population has made the two cities a lucrative business opportunity for foreign and international businesses. Thus, many foreign companies have come streaming into the area to take advantage of the abundance of labor resources. Here, the research suggests that "Some 400 maquiladoras, or assembly plants, have all but eliminated unemployment in Juarez and have sown the seeds of a stable middle class," (Padgett 2001 p 1). With a huge pool of labor sources available in both El Paso and Juarez, many manufacturing and production houses are opening up on both sides of the border, which essentially employing the citizens of the two cities. Yet, still hourly wages in Juarez is only $1.25, a stark contrast from the minimum wages seen just across the border in El Paso. Moreover, there has been much more international collaboration between the residents of El Paso and Juarez. The two cities have gone above and beyond to try to care for the residents of both places, because they share so much together. Thus, the research states that "El Paso and Juarez recently teamed up -- behind the backs of their federal governments -- to increase the amount of treated wastewater that Juarez can channel into agriculture," (Padgett 2001 p 2). This helps with the freeing up river water for smaller poor communities on the outskirts of Juarez to drink. This collaboration between the two cities is also opening up opportunities to the citizens of Mexico
Thousands of students travel across the border each day to receive a stronger education (Cave 2011). Primary school and college students are allowed to pursue their education in the United States while living in Juarez.
However, there are also clear negative human impacts as well. Unfortunately the large number of people immigrating into the city of Juarez has created a situation of intense overpopulation. The research suggests that "Juarez is the migration story that most Americans don't hear about: the one that stops just numbers of people streaming into the city are astounding and the research shows that 60% of Juarez's population was born elsewhere in Mexico (Casey 2006). As more and more production plants are constructed in the region, more emigrants are likely to keep streaming in from all over Mexico. Illegal border crossings are also impacting El Paso in Texas as well. It is apparent that "Juarez is by nature transitory, attracting thousands of workers to high-turnover jobs in manufacturing, or who use the city across the Rio Grande from El Paso Texas, as a way station before they slip north illegally," (Associated Press 2011 p 1). Over 70% of El Paso is Hispanic (Casey 2006). Over 4.5 million people crossed the border from Mexico into El Paso in 2001 (Casey 2006). Juarez is estimated to be one of the biggest transition towns into the United States (Cave 2011). This intensifies the number of illegal border crossings streaming into El Paso daily. Moreover, the overpopulation is creating a situation plagued by disease and violence. According to the research "diseases are spreading, and they don't stop at the customs station," (Padgett 2001 p 1). Tuberculosis and hepatitis are making their way north into El Paso from the overcrowded streets of Juarez. The research shows that there us a 32% infant mortality rate in Juarez, which is entirely unacceptable within these contemporary times. Drug lords and crime are also inciting violence across both cities. The immense violence is often seen on both sides of the border; "a turf battle over border drug corridors unleashed an unprecedented wave of cartel murders and mayhem," (Associated Press 2011 p 1). With $40 billion in profits annually coming from the drug trade passing through both towns, the violence is getting even more intense (Casey 2006). Now, many local businesses and families are forced to pay tribute to the drug cartels, which effectively eat away their profits (Associated Press 2011).
There are mixed outlooks for current strategies. There is obviously some sustainability in looking towards the future. El Paso is now offering residents 50 cents per square yard to replace their lawns with more native and less water guzzling plants (Padgett 2001). Additionally, "Juarez has banned any new high water use maquiladoras and is encouraging others to build water-recycling facilities," (Padgett 2001 p 2). This shows some sustainability into the future by preserving water and restricting unnecessary water use. Still, these current plans are not providing clear signs of full sustainability of the two towns. Both El Paso and Juarez "slurp from a common, underground desert aquifer, but Juarez's exploding population may run out of fresh water in as little as five years because it sits on a smaller portion of the aquifer," (Padgett 2001 p 2). The current efforts are too little, but hopefully not too late.
For greater sustainability of relief efforts, there are several strategies here. First, local governments and community activists must work on the encouragement of volunteer organizations helping the poor in both Juarez and El Paso. Volunteer groups are often not as restricted by governments in where they can work within the region, and are able to cross the border with ease to attack the problem on both sides. Thus, promoting and funding volunteer efforts is a strategy that will be able to have high levels of sustainability. Moreover, there needs to be legislation securing money to build more underground aquifers. Grass roots activism augmented with the help of volunteers can secure a greater future for the two cities in terms of water availability. Legislation is also needed that makes it easier for the two border towns to work together. Currently, there is no communal legislation that allows the sharing of resources. El Paso is often forced to act against the federal government to provide assistance to Juarez in order to save itself from possible disease epidemics and crime waves. Greater legislation is needed to increase the two cities' collaboration and cooperation with one…
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