Everybody knows that trying to enter the US illegally (and actually remaining in the United States) is a huge gamble. Is it more or less of a gamble than trying to win the mega jackpot with the Intertops casino bonus? I don't know. But if you are going to do the trip, it is a good idea to understand what you are getting yourself into.
Item 1: Learn English
I am not saying that you need to learn English like a native before trying to "get to America", but you need to at least know the basics. The active vocabulary of a Native English speaker is about 10,000 words. These are the words that people speak every day.
- 100,000-word families in English (run, runs, runner, running -- all part of the family word family, you learn one word, you understand the general idea of the rest).
- Active vocabulary is the vocabulary you use on a daily basis (read, write, listen to, and speak with confidence).
- Passive vocabulary is the vocabulary where if you hear the word, you generally understand it, but you do not have complete confidence in that word.
- With a vocabulary size of 2,000 active word families and 2,500 passive word-families, a person can speak English fluently.
2,000 words is enough so that you can watch the news in English on TV, watch a movie in English, read a newspaper in English ... and not be completely lost. It is the starting point where the learning of English actually becomes "fun" and "interesting".
But if you are panicking at the thought of learning 2,000-word families remember these facts ... (and yes, either somebody else is translating this article to you or else you are using Google Translate to read and understand this article):
- 250 words cover around 70% of the words in K-2nd grade reading materials and around 50% of the words in adult reading material (and it does not matter the type of reading material). These are the binding words in English (pronouns, major conjunctions, major verbs, major adjectives).
- 700 words cover around 87% - 94% of the spoken words you will hear in daily speaking. (NGSL-Spoken word list)
- 1,000 words cover around 90% of the words in 3rd-8th grade reading materials. Most newspapers (and general books) are written at a "5th-grade reading level. (Fry Word List, 1000 words)
So if you learn ...
- First 50 words, Kindergarten reading level
- 250 Dolch Words, 2nd Grade reading level
- First 300 Fry Words (most repeat of Dolch Words), 3rd-grade reading level
- Fry words 400 - 1000, 5th grade reading level (90% coverage). This should include almost all of the 700 NGSL-Spoken words (87%-94% coverage for adults)
Is knowing the grade level important for ESL adults? Yes, because you can go to a librarian and say, "Can I borrow a 1st-grade reader, please", and the librarian can direct you to a book at exactly your reading level. In the United States, public libraries, for children, sort the books by reading level for the early readers. After that, they are organized by "Middle School", "High School", and "Adults". Sometimes they are called "Teen readers".
But I do not know how to even read English. I know only the ABCs (or maybe not even that).
Learning the ABCs:
- Brainy Baby ABC -- Watch this video every single day for 30 days straight, and you will know the ABCs.
Learning to read through memorizing sight words:
- Memorize the 220 Dolch words (plus at least 30 nouns). Also called "Sight Words" -- 30 days for the first 125 words and 30 days for the next 125 words (2 months, 250 words)
Learning to read through phonics reading (sounding out the words):
- Hooked on Phonics -- Reading Level K-2nd grade through phonics. Covers all one-syllable words.
- Level 1 (1 month to 3 months)
- Level 2 - 5 (3 months total)
- Advanced Hooked on Phonics, compound words and multi-syllable words -- Reading level 3rd - 8th (2 months)
- "Your Reading Power" (Individual cards with stories) - 2nd grade - 12th grade).
So, to go from nothing to reading at a 5th-8th grade level (physical reading), estimate that it will take 9 months. I am talking about "reading with confidence", but not necessarily memorizing the vocabulary.
How will I know when I truly "know" English?
When you start to dream in English, then you will know that truly know English. In other words, when your brain, in its relaxed state, thinks in English, you will know that you know English.
Do I really need to know English when so many people in the United States speak Spanish?
Yes, you could go to the United States, move into a community with a high level of Spanish speakers, never learn a word of English, and live your life. There are people in America that are 3rd generation "Americans" (grandparents, parents, children), who do not speak a word of English. So, yes, it is possible. But is it a good idea?
Think about this. Whoopie Goldberg got into trouble recently because she said that "the Holocaust was not based on racism". Whoopie Goldberg's theory was based on the fact that since Jews physically look like "White People" they could easily blend into "White Society". Although that statement is "true" for Jews who immigrated to America (within one generation, became "Americans"), it was not a true statement in Germany and other Nazi-controlled areas.
First, Jews lived in Ghettos. Ghettos in Europe are not the same as what we call Ghettos in the United States (low-income areas). In Europe, Ghettos have physical walls around the community and the people could easily be locked into the community.
Before the Nazis came to power, Jews were forced to live in these locked communities unless the Jews agreed to give up their Jewish religion and agree to become Christians. But even priests who had one grandparent who was Jewish were "Jewish" according to the Nazis. So how did the Nazis "find the Jews"?
- Jews spoke Yiddish. So even if they also spoke German, they most likely spoke with a German accent.
- Records were kept on who was a Jew and who was a Christian. Your Passport (and other legal documents) clearly stated that you were Jewish.
- Your Christian "friends and neighbors" told the Nazis who was Jewish and who was not Jewish for money (or to get themselves out of trouble).
Only in Demark were the Jews not required to register themselves with the local authorities, and their neighbors did not "rat them out". Denmark had no policy of segregating the Jews from non-Jews, so the Nazis were never able to determine who was Jewish and who was not Jewish. Instead of the Danish non-Jewish community turning the Jewish community over to the Nazis, they did the opposite. They hide the Jews, rescued the Jews, and even universities closed, so the students could help save the Jewish community.
Wouldn't Americans "help us"? Doesn't America have "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants?
Yes and no. When the number of illegal immigrants is small and the illegal immigrant community can be absorbed into the general community, then yes, Americans will help, and there are sanctuary cities. But right now the numbers are too high to a level where even the Sanctuary cities are at breaking point. Even the sanctuary cities are saying, "Enough is enough".
Most Americans support legal immigration, and when an immigrant "helps themselves". The best way to show that you are a person who will "help yourself" is by taking the time and dedication to learn English. You are showing people that you are a person who will do what it takes to succeed in America.
But I do not have the money to learn English.
Really? According to the article "Mexican migrants coming home for Christmas, a target of violence, collection of road fees, and extortion from the authorities" legal Mexican immigrants who travel by car from the US to Mexico are being forced to pay $1500 from various "people" to reenter Mexico.
This article only talks about the current rate to go from the United States to Mexico (legally) in December 2022. It does not talk about what these same "authorities" are going to charge legal US immigrants to go from Mexico to the United States. It would be safe to assume that it will be at least the same price, but if I had to guess, it would probably be double that amount.
Which has more value? Safe passage to go from the United States to Mexico or safe passage to go from Mexico to the United States (even for legal immigrants, cross at legal US checkpoints). So the total cost will be around $4,000 for "legal immigrant crossing, round trip".
From another article that I read, the cost of "safe passage" for illegal immigrants from Mexico to the United States is $4,000.
Other articles state that the cost is $10,000. If you do not have the money, you have to pay through "indentured servitude" (aka, become a slave of the cartels. For women and girls, according to US government reports, 80% of women and girls are raped in order to get "safe passage" (if you call that 'safe passage').
If the women and girls do not have the $10,000, they have to pay their "immigration fee" by becoming sex slaves. Even girls as young as 10 years old are forced to become sex slaves. Again, there are too many illegal immigrants, so the US government agencies that are supposed to prevent this from happening, don't have the manpower to prevent this.
Boys and men pay their fees by becoming coyotes and/or becoming part of "gang thefts" or being the "front men" for the illegal drug trade.
You may or may not be physically locked up and have your mobile phone and official documents taken away from you, so you do not even have the option to just "return to Mexico".
How much does an official ESL course in the United States?
A full-time course that includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar costs around $2,650.
At the University of Illinois, it costs $7,832 per semester for 15 weeks.
At Illinois Institute of Technology, the cost is around $4900 for tuition, $850 fees, $1117 health insurance, and $7785 for room and board for a total estimated cost of $14,672. But this is 15 hours of instruction a week (aka, full-time dedication to learning English). You pay the money, you enroll in the school, and you get a student visa.
But the catch is that you still have to have some level of English. These types of programs are not designed for absolute beginners. Where do you get the "beginner's education"? You can either take English classes in your home country or else you can use programs like Pimsleur, or Rosetta Stone (or even some free ones online). But you are still talking about making an effort of 1 to 2 years.
Is the ESL path worth it? Only you can decide that. What I can probably tell you is that the Cartels, as long as the US Government allows it, will charge people just under the rate of what a person would pay to go the "legal ESL education route". If the "legal route" costs around $14k, then the Cartels will continue to charge a minimum of around $4k to a high of around $10k. Either you pay with dollars or you pay with servitude.
But there is a saying in the United States, "He sold his soul to the company store". Meaning, when slavery in the United States was illegal, unscrupulous "employers" got around this by providing "housing" and "other stuff" to employees. They were paid with "company script", but this "company script" could only buy things at the "company store" (and the conversion rate to regular dollars was "outrageous").
So at the end of the day, the people who worked for these companies and lived on company housing and paid with company script were never able to save money to actually leave the company's employ.
If you try to enter the United States by going through the "Cartel Route", you are "selling your soul to the company store".