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Mexicans are not the only immigrants trying to enter the United States illegally; many of them are from Central America. Most of those come by land, passing through Mexico on their way to the US. The dangers they face on the way, both from criminal gangs and Mexican authorities, is notorious.
In today’s Houston Chronicle, Dudley Althaus recounts the harrowing experiences of people who, in search of a better life, dare to cross the river of woes:
TECUN UMAN, Guatemala — Juan Bautista Castañeda stepped aboard a makeshift raft to cross the shallow Suchiate River into Mexico from Guatemala, the beginning of a more than 1,100-mile trek he hopes will end on the South Texas border.
And not in abduction, torture or death.
On two earlier tries, he has been attacked by thugs and arrested by Mexican immigration agents, Castañeda said. But nothing good awaits the field hand back in his El Salvador village, so he has girded himself for another, perhaps final, attempt.
Pushed first by war and then by want, Central Americans for three decades have poured through Mexico by the millions on their way to hopeful, if illegal, futures in the U.S. Making their way north by rail and road, many have been robbed and raped, kidnapped and extorted, maimed and murdered.
“You see it every day — how difficult it is, how dangerous,” Castañeda said. “But I’m going again. With the Lord’s help, I’m going to make it.”
The article goes on to give examples of the horrific things that have happened to migrants making their way to the US, such as the massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants that made worldwide headlines. Kidnapping and hostage-taking to extort money from relatives of migrants “back home” or already in the US is also common, with over 10,000 incidents in 2009.
This is a good article, worth one’s time to read, and there are a few points to take away from it:
While we are legitimately concerned about illegal immigration and our poorly secured southern border, and while we shouldn’t reward people who break our laws (other than to reelect them to Congress), we must never forget that behind the statistics are human beings seeking the same thing for their families we want for ours: a better life. Yes, hidden among them are criminals and agents of our jihadist enemies, but to treat all illegals as potential thieves is just as dumb as ignoring the problem, as the open borders crowd would do.
Once again, the Mexican government’s whining about the treatment their illegals receive in the US is shown to be a sick, twisted joke when compared to what happens to illegals in their own country.
And, finally, that people would attempt these journeys again and again, knowing the dangers involved and even after experiencing them first-hand, is an amazing testimonial both to human determination and to how bleak life must be where they come from, that they are motivated to risk everything to get here.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)