Migrants prepared for the Darién crossing in Necoclí, shopping for tents, flashlights and water-purification pills. The passage through the Darién requires hiking along muddy paths in dense, roadless jungle for a couple of days or more, with little access to fresh water or defense against mosquitoes.

The cost of a trek like the one Mr. Huang was attempting ranges from $7,000 to $10,000 to pay for smugglers, transportation and lodging, Chinese migrants say. The going rate for more direct or safer smuggling routes, such as air passage to Mexico where snakehead “agents” bribe customs officials to let Chinese in with forged travel documents, is $60,000 or more, the migrants say.

This is from Wenxin Fan and Shen Lu, “Fleeing China, Many Take Dangerous Route to U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, April 16 (April 17 print edition.) The news item is a page 1 story and it’s good old-fashioned WSJ reporting. I would love to quote almost every paragraph.

These Chinese people are seeking asylum in the United States, and a large percent of them get it, but to get to the southern border, they need to take huge risks. The biggest challenge is crossing the Darien Gap.

Imagine how much better things would be, for them and for us U.S. taxpayers, if the U.S. government made it easy for Chinese people to come here and claim asylum and in return charged, say, $30,000 to go towards reducing the federal deficit. There would be tens of thousands of takers, fewer lives lost, and productive people coming due to the selection bias of paying $30,000.

Do they come here to work? I would bet almost all of them do, given the age at which they come. But they are also seeking liberty. Remember when many Americans welcomed people who fled from authoritarian and totalitarian governments?