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Taking a lesson from the phone-sex and dial-a-psychic industries, the US State Department has hit on an ingenious scheme to squeeze a little extra cash from Mexicans seeking US visas — one that may serve the bonus function of screening out those who can’t afford to pay, reports PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE.

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To enter the US legally, Mexican citizens need visas, which require an apppointment at the US embassy. Since 1997, one can only make an appointment by calling a 900 number that charges US$1.20 a minute — no small sum in a country where unemployment is high and wages are typically one-tenth of what they are north of the border.

Telscape International, the (of course) US-based company that handles the calls, makes an estimated $20 to $30 million a year from Mexicans seeking a more comfortable way to get to Houston than hiding under the floorboards of a delivery truck.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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