The US-Mexico border is the most frequently crossed border in the world, with 350 million documented crossings annually. However, not all Mexicans enter the USA legally. Thousands of desperate people attempt to cross the border illegally, facing a range of dangers, risks and potential consequences. This article explores the ways in which Mexicans cross the US-Mexico border, the challenges they face and the reasons behind their decision to do so.
The High Cost Of Coyotes
The most common method of illegal entry is by crossing the border between Mexico and the United States on foot.
However, an estimated 90% of migrants are smuggled across the border by human traffickers, also known as “Coyotes.”
The cost of paying off a Coyote can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the distance traveled, the mode of transportation, and the level of risk involved. Current price estimates range from $5,000 to upwards of $10,000. That‘s a crazy amount of money considering Mexico’s minimum wage is fixed at roughly €227.2 per month.
In some cases, people save up over time. Some are lucky enough to receive financial assistance from relatives or friends already living in the United States. Others have turned to loan sharks or other unscrupulous lenders to obtain the funds they need.
The people that manages to scrounge together enough money are the lucky ones because not everyone can afford the steep costs. Others pay their way through services in exchange for safe passage – by offering themselves up as drug mules.
What do Coyote’s do?
Coyotes help people physically cross the border, but they almost always have a whole team behind them. Border crossing is a well-organized process that begins well in advance of the actual crossing itself. The Coyote crews have to deliver clients to safe houses prior to crossing, organise transportation, create fake documents, analyse the hours that border guards work, and constantly update their intel otherwise they’ll fail.
Cartels “own” certain parts of border turf. When coyotes intend to cross on their turf, they have to pay the cartel a fee for each person that crosses. Its an honour based system, the coyote gives his word that he has paid a fare for each passenger and if he is found to be lying, the cartel murders him.
As for the actual crossing of the border itself, there is quite a lot involved. Coyotes act as guides through the perilous terrain helping migrants through scorching deserts, rivers
Several watchers check for guards and wait for border patrol to leave the area so the Coyote can install a ladder and help people climb over the wall.
Coyotes are often part of criminal networks and engage in human trafficking for profit, and as long as there are people desperate to cross, there will be coyotes willing to do the job. If crossing the border eventually becomes more difficult, coyotes will simply charge more in the future.
Dangers and Deaths
The areas of the border that are terrain-wise easiest to cross are heavily guarded, meaning the only options are to try and to get past walls and border patrol or taking your chances with Mother Nature.
One of the more common places for attempted crossings is the Sonoran Desert, where the temperatures can reach a scorching 48°C (118°F) in the summer and winter nighttime lows can plummet to below freezing point. Another very common obstacle is the Rio Grande River which is home to Alligators and E.coli, and if anyone is lucky enough to survive all of that intact they still have to either walk for tens of miles or risk being stowed away in a vehicle upon arrival.
In September of 2022, U.S Customs and Border protection confirmed that 9 migrants had died while attempting to swim across the Rio Grand river.
In June of 2022 53 migrants were found dead in San Antonio, Texas, many of heatstroke and dehydration after being shut inside a tractor-trailer in blistering heat without any water.
According to statistics from the International Organization for Migration, at least 650 migrants died crossing the US-Mexico border in 2021. The highest number of deaths since they began recording them in 2014.
There is no exact number of how many Mexicans illegally cross the border into the United States each year. However, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the United States has been declining in recent years due to a combination of factors such as increased border enforcement, the economic downturn in the United States, and improvements in the Mexican economy. In 2017, it was estimated that there were around 4.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico living in the United States, down from a peak of 6.9 million in 2007.
Disclaimer: Not all illegal migrants in the USA are from Mexico and not all Mexicans enter the USA illegally. Mexicans can and do reach the United States through various legal means, including legal immigration, tourism, study visas, and work visas etc. This article is specifically about Mexicans that illegally enter the United States and exists purely for educational reasons.
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