El Factor Humano
In other words, the human factor. It gets in the way. There are times when men and women in positions of influence might want to imitate in their own way the omniscience of God. There are just as many times when it might pay for the above-mentioned to look the other way, not as silent partners in crime, or accomplices so much as persons of faith rather than strict interpreters of law. Now may very well not be a ripe time for the introduction of new social programs. Existing ones already get bad press. Programs designed to aid non-citizens are unthinkable! But it is past due to make firm, conclusive, and humane decisions regarding border situations that must come to an end. Since crossings continue, sometimes successfully, often enough the opposite, the frustrations of the southern realms are palpable. Residents do not want to put up with it -- aliens meandering about hunting for food, water, and shelter. Illegal immigration must either be controlled or eliminated. Anything in between is, has been, and ever will be largely disastrous.
On the tube, in print, or on the air, there are many big-shots who demand a completely sealed border, something the U.S. has never achieved. It might not be irrelevant to interject that we would not benefit from escalating ill-will between and betwixt Mexico and the U.S. Cooperation and compromise is still the best method. But to halt suffering and unnecessary expense both in terms of dollars paid and efforts made only causes the best brains to squirm. What is the answer?
Indignities. There are many. Crossing the border illegally is criminal. But in some cases it is quite a unique crime. For instance, there are those who assemble a small fortune of $1,000 or $2,000 in order to acquire a job that pays $50 per week. Such employment is more than likely not a no-show or loafing job either. Only consider that to stay put, a Mexican in Mexico, make ends meet, handle medical expenses, help loved ones, and live a respectable existence is, to a large segment of the population, an impossibility. Despite the amount of money the immigrants are able to put together and offer a coyote or pollero, they cannot in addition expect to be treated with respect. In fact, in the case described by Jorge Ramos, Univision Host and Anchor, the immigrants in a singular event only bought themselves a ride to an inferno. It would be four unendurable hours before the driver opened the truck doors. All the while, the human cargo inside was choking for breath, thirsting for liquid, and hallucinating from excessive heat and lack of oxygen. A security camera recorded the driver's purchase at a convenience store near Victoria of some twenty bottles of water. Too little too late. By this time, the asphyxiated were lying motionless on the floor. The riders could not get the driver's attention. They had been pounding on the wall to no avail.
Would you agree to a settlement with Mexico allowing a certain amount of immigration while keeping the border completely sealed? That is, by means of force.
One would think that an experienced crosser, someone who had travelled across the border both ways several times, would not have been duped into something so sinister that the substance of the whole event became a slender but excellent book by a noted Mexican-American journalist. That is to say, there are already stories and stories, stacked on top of one another, of various degrees of fortune and misfortune, having to do with coming to America. But this one was different. For instance, all the women survived. No one knows why. But a five-year-old succumbed to the elements. The immigrants suffocated together in a locked trailer with no air circulation or conditioning. It takes away one's breath. As could be predicted, things went from bad to worse. People who could still use their voices prayed. The experienced traveller had made a bad decision against his better judgment. But did he really have a choice? There are not always options.
This is the real world. The devil's playground. The sad event took place in '03, years ago, yet a solution to a dangerous borderland has not been found. Anyone can read the original work in Spanish or translation. I am only trying to popularize Morir en el Intento and its author for what I think are good reasons. We need to hear a rational report from somebody who values lives over a map and the kindergarten mentality that presides over it. A border crosser is not the same as a motorist who runs over a curb -- to be ticketed or warned, possibly arraigned and fined. It is only too easy to state that immigrants must follow in the footsteps of the esteemed graduates of Ellis Island. They must begin in extreme poverty, the way they did. They must learn English, the way they did. They must climb some sort of non-existent ladder, the way they did, to heights that are more mythological than genuine. It is hard to believe that in most cases migrants are just people simply trying to get by, not cause trouble, or commit crimes and somehow disappear in the cracks of a flawed system.
Ciudades, Pueblos, y Villas
One came from Honduras to San Fernando, Tamaulipas. For some reason, I find it interesting that Mexico, like the United States, is divided into states. Somebody might come from Chihuahua the same as from Nebraska. The truck itself was to leave Harlingen, TX, and arrive later in Houston. Three Salvadorans were aboard. Two women first crossed into Guatemala, then Mexico, before making the trek into the USA. To go from El Salvador to the USA legally involves a reasonably priced plane ticket. Not so, illegally. Try $5,500. A few from farther away met in the bus station of Reynosa, also in Tamaulipas. Others assembled in the bus station in Matamoros, just under Brownsville, Texas. Harlingen reputedly had "safe houses" where immigrants could hide from Immigration Agents. Do they really hide or is there an arrangement? One man brought fourteen immigrants to the truck. The woman in charge was committing her fifth act of human trafficking. Another man produced eight immigrants. Still another contributed three. Yet one more had twenty. Traffickers and immigrants pretended to be family as they slipped by inspection booths. Some waded across the river. The numbers are staggering when it comes to head counts in these house-depots. All came from places passengers may or may not have had an intention to return to. Guanajuato, Puebla, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Guerrero -- these were some of them. What counted was that in a few days time, they would be inside the USA. What were they thinking? Of our commercials? Everybody driving sports cars and looking so photogenic? Citizens complain about the undocumented, but think of what many of them go through, and it becomes clear how determined they are, and probably remain, under whatever circumstances.
Estados Unidos Mexicanos
By the time the truck reached Sarita, Texas, the passengers inside the trailer were feeling uncomfortable. They did not know that the journey on Highway 77 would take another two and a half hours. The air was stale. The heat kept ascending. It was substantially hotter inside than outside, and it only got worse and worse. Some panicked. There was no water. The driver drove especially slow so as not to get stopped for speeding. He had been assured he would not have to worry about immigration checkpoint areas. He did not have to slow down. Another fix? Inside, the passengers were challenged bodily by dehydration leading to hyperthermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. One might think that they were too humble or passive, but they tried to attract attention, pushing clothing out from a small hole, phoning the organizer, and calling 911. The call failed somehow after someone answered.
Several jumped off the truck at the Exxon station where the driver had stopped because of a dangling taillight. They hid for as long as they could, then knocked on the door to a house. The homeowners were nice, gave them food and drink, conversed, in Spanish apparently, and learned of the pointless deaths of some eighteen men. Not unexpectedly, the police were called and the young men who had survived the ordeal were taken into custody. At this point, there was no hope. Only those who were needed for the ensuing trial were allowed to stay. Of what use would a trial be? The laws are ineffective so how can due process improve things? Certainly it would not bring back the dead. Others still roamed about, relatively free. Some could not get themselves to admit that many of their comrades had died. They preferred to think that they had fainted or passed out. When the police chief arrived on the scene, he noted that the dead were hot. At 106 degrees Fahrenheit, they were giving off heat. By this time, the trailer had been detached. The driver, claiming innocence, went ahead to Houston without them. Once there, he checked into a hospital.
The traditional root of all evil.
According to Ramos, neither the Mexican nor American government admits any guilt in the continuation of policies that only create more and more tragedies. This one is hard to beat, in terms of tragedy, but the undocumented have always gone through hell. Can it really be money, even in the so-called End Days, that prompts both Mexicans and Americans to play a kind of game, the end result of which means cheap labor on one side of the river, and more money to spend on the other? Ramos states boldly enough that the Mexican government does virtually nothing to stop this evil, lucrative industry in trafficking. Well, this was an assessment made some twelve years ago, and I am hardly up to speed on the issue. It is not the shady economics so much that irritates me but the lack of reverence for life. In this regard, the widespread disdain for all things human all too human is hardly limited to illegal immigration. It infects so much of life among all rank and file. We are beyond divisive. We are gradually wending our ways, some thinking this, others that, toward seizing one another's throats.