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Texas Cash Crop - Human Smuggling

Updated on August 19, 2016
Austinstar profile image

Lela earned a B.A. degree in Journalism from Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX. She has been writing for the online world for years.

Border Patrol Agents on Horseback

No water, just scrub desert and an influx of immigrants
No water, just scrub desert and an influx of immigrants | Source

Southern Texas - Northern New Mexico

A markerFalfurrias, Tx -
Falfurrias, TX 78355, USA
get directions

The "Pipeline" town where many illegal aliens hope to catch rides to San Antonio or Houston.

Illegal Immigration Fact:

The U.S. Immigration authorities cannot immediately legally deport people from a non-border sharing country. They are mandated by law to hold illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico (or Canada) until they can be processed through a court. All Mexican nationals caught crossing the southern border can be sent back on a bus. Sometimes on the same day.

The Illegal Alien Problem in South Texas

South Texas shares a very long, very hard and very dry border with Northern Mexico. Travelling the thousands of miles necessary through these bad lands to reach civilization is challenging, yet beckoning to many young people from Mexico and Central America.

They will pay huge sums of money to anyone who will help them get to San Antonio or Houston, the meccas of the lost. Even then, they must pay more money to reach jobs that are scattered from New York to California and almost every point in between. Many die.

Many times these poor people must become 'mules' to drug lords and coyotes in order to get the money they need for passage into and through the U.S.A. Women sell their bodies for that money. They sell their children in hopes that they won't become slaves, but they usually do.

Hundreds of these poor people die en route to the "promised land". They are locked into trucks with no water or air conditioning, each paying huge sums of money for this "privilege". Women are transported to locked houses and must become prostitutes to earn their "bed and boarding". Most of them never work off their so-called debts. Women are raped so many times by "coyotes" that they die and are tied to any "rape tree" in the area. A warning sign to all that try to escape the coyotes.

Now children are coming across. They are sent by their mothers who are enslaved by the harsh economic conditions of their birth homes.Some children cross over to look for their fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins that came before them and were never heard from again.

Guatemalan Boy Sitting on Tree Trunk


The Desert of South Texas

Can you imagine walking for days, weeks, perhaps even months, across a desert? There is growth here - thorny mesquite trees, wild grasses and cactus. But there are no lakes, rivers, ponds or watering holes of any kind, save what hardy ranchers have built for their livestock.

Once across the Rio Grande river, the land is inhospitable save for wild pigs and tough as nails livestock. There is no shelter, no water fountains, no restrooms, no respite from the cruel sun. You cross alone or with small groups that you cannot trust. Sleeping is hit or miss. And you are constantly hunted by men on horses, men in helicopters, even drones are now sent out to find you. You cannot travel by any road or the Immigration patrol will pick you up. But sometimes that is all that will save you.

You carry with you all the money you have in the world. But it will not slake your thirst or your hunger. Only the desire for a better life keeps you on your feet, mile after punishing mile. Only the hope of finding your loved ones or a decent job keeps you breathing.

It is like the underground railroad of old slavery times. There are people who will help you, give you water and food, perhaps even give you a ride to the cities where you will not be hunted like a wild animal. There are tunnels, invisible markers to guide you, word of mouth tales of success or failures. But if you are caught, "La Migra" will send you back to square one. That is if you live that long.

Hundreds die out here in the "pipeline". The wild pigs eat them. The ranchers sometimes find their bones. They die from dehydration, starvation or even deliberate murder. Sometimes they are double crossed by their Coyotes. Sometimes they are just killed for what little money and provisions they have.

Now imagine that you are just a child.

The Rio Grande River - The Texas Southern Border

A markerRio Grande River, Texas -
Rio Grande
get directions

Basically, both sides of the Rio Grande River of Texas are hard and dangerous.

Cashing in on the Misfortune of Immigrants

Would you believe that there are Texans willing to help these illegal immigrants? Some do it for altruistic reasons, but many do it to make money on human trafficking. Some illegal immigrants are not poor, but because they cannot enter the U.S.A legally, they must pay to be smuggled in.

Many Texans (who are also hit by a poor economy) are quite willing to give these people a ride to a city. Reportedly, the fee for just picking them up, like any hitch hiker, is anywhere from $500 to $5,000 US Dollars.

The rides begin after they have crossed the desert and made it to Falfurrias (for instance). After they have near died of thirst and hunger and if they make it to Highway 285, they signal the drivers in the know that they are willing to pay passage to Houston or other points north.

It seems that there are no more border patrol check points north of Highway 285 and locals giving these people a ride find it safe enough from being stopped by a border patrol car. This is not guaranteed, however, and citizens have been caught and charged with human trafficking. The punishments are rarely severe though, and most just pay a fine and go back to collecting more hitch hikers.

Slang Terms for Illegal Immigrants

Most illegal immigrants find these terms mean and racist:

  • illegals - Anyone crossing a border without a legal right to do so.
  • wet backs - Immigrants that have had to swim across a border
  • sin papeles - Spanish for "without papers" (No passport or even birth certificate)
  • Coyotes - anyone who accepts payment for illegal passage to another country
  • mules - willing or unwilling immigrants that pay for passage to the U.S.A. by transporting illegal drugs or goods.

Houston, Texas - the Mecca for Illegal Immigrants?


Get The Facts!

Anyone can visit the Homeland Security web site and read the facts themselves. Many times people get very confused over what is true about illegal immigration and what is not true.

Rumors get started, then spread like wildfire. The most I have to say about it is that NO president in the history of the United States has EVER been able to control illegal immigration. So, it is upsetting to me to read that the current "crisis" in immigration is being blamed on the current President.

In fact, there simply is no current "crisis". The rate of illegal immigration has been steady since 1989, peaking in 1995 through 2004. The current percentage of illegal immigrants for the U.S.A. is holding at 14%. This is LESS THAN the percentage in 2000-2004 when it peaked at 28%.

The current President has deported MORE illegal immigrants than any other President in our nation's history.

So, visit the Department of Homeland Security and get the facts!

Immigrant or not?

Did you or your ancestors immigrate to the U.S.A.?

See results

© 2014 Lela


Submit a Comment

  • Say Yes To Life profile image

    Yoleen Lucas 3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

    Austinstar - if the immigrants were treated decently and given a fair wage, they'd have more money to send home. There would also be fewer of them dying while attempting to cross the border.

    Of course, I have all the answers...

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    The Mexican government could care less. The immigrants actually send money back to Mexico for their families which is beneficial to Mexico in general. So why should they stop it?

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    Sondra Rochelle 3 years ago from USA

    This is a horrible situation but until the Mexican government agrees to help with it, I fear it will continue. I, too, get tired of people blaming Obama for every single thing that goes wrong. He is only one man, and one man can only do so much.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Hi Mary! Well, some of the commentators have pointed out that these 'facts' are interpreted differently by different people. I'm sure they have their own agendas. But it is important to just go and check the facts first before trying to form an opinion.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

    Every day we are faced with more instances of the terrible world we live in. How sad that these people need to escape and sadder still we have no room for them. People dying to get to freedom, every day!

    This hub was filled with interesting facts. I was especially surprised by the statistics in your last paragraphs.

    Voted up, useful, and interesting.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Thank you, Genna. I have lived in Mexico and have seen what illegals have to go through. The whole thing is just tragic. I just wish everyone would make their homes permanent. The grass isn't greener anywhere else really. Each of us suffers our own trials and tribulations wherever we are from.

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    You have given a tragic and true-life face to those lives we only hear about or read in the news, where they are represented as merely numbers of illegal immigrants in an “on-going crisis.” Excellent article, Star! Everyone should read this! Voted up and beyond and shared.

  • Say Yes To Life profile image

    Yoleen Lucas 3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

    The September 2003 issue of National Geographic describes 21st century slavery. It's happening right here in this country, exacerbated by the exploitation of Central and South American immigrants trying to come to the US.

    A former roommate of mine, who I nicknamed "Spiritual Shawn" because of all he overcame, used to live in Phoenix, AZ. He told me the slave trade there affected the number of jobs and the wage scale there, making the city very economically depressed.

    It's so true what Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, said, "What affects one group affects all of us".

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Do you work in law enforcement? Overstayed visas are rarely tracked and certainly not easy. I came from a law enforcement background and officers only do what they can do in their 8-12 hour shifts. Most of that is sit on their butts and do paperwork.

    Patrol officers only do what's directly in front of them. Border patrol is pretty much catch and release daily. They don't 'track down' old cases unless the cases become 'hot' for some reason.

    Go read this hub about border security by a friend of mine in Arizona -

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    Overstaying visas in an enforcement issue. Easily tracked and identified - these are actual documents - so why are we not doing more to enforce that issue?

    While I'm aware of the other issues, I'm not sure the numbers come even close to the issues the southern border faces. I could be wrong though and will certainly look into it more closely.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    No, the whole west coast is being invaded by Asians and no one even notices. The Canadian border is utilized by many as well. The East coast and the gulf of Mexico still has plenty of gaps as evidenced by Cubans and Europeans coming in.

    You are not safe anywhere in the US anymore from illegal aliens. You may not realize it. A lot of the illegals with money are just over staying their student visas and even tourist visas. It is an international mess, not just a southern border one.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    Well there isn't a whole lot of Canadian border running and the Coast Guard seems to do a pretty decent job when they attempt a water crossing - it really is the southern border mostly.

    Hey, I certainly don't have all the answers, I just know that we can't take everyone in, even if we want to, and not have our own citizens adversely affected.

    Certainly though - there should be harsh penalties and jail time for any of our own citizens taking advantage of these people and cashing in.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Well, just a thought. We are going to have to come up with some viable way of guarding all four of our borders. The navy has to get involved, the armed forces, and probably lots of drone technology.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    You'd have to go through governments to do it and the actual people would never see it. Not only that - people don't like us paying farmers to not grow crops - certainly paying non-citizens to obey the law is not going to fly.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Oh, I've already done hubs on overpopulation. It's my pet peeve.

    I wonder, what if we offer incentives to illegal aliens to NOT cross the border? We do it for farmers to NOT grow certain crops. I mean, if we take the money we are using to fight illegal immigration and use it to pay people to stay in their own country. It's fraught with issues, but the current methods certainly aren't working.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    Eh I don't hate anyone. There is a difference between believing that certain policies are bringing down the nation, hating certain agendas and harboring actual hatred for the politician themselves.

    I certainly don't hate illegal immigrants - I just think you don't make any strides towards solving the problem by rewarding law breakers.

    Overpopulation has its own complexities. Sounds like an idea for another Hub :)

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    You know what disturbs me the most about the whole immigration situation? It's the hate.

    hate for Obama; hate for poor people; hate for politicians in general; hate for the changes that happen because of immigration; hate for those that are 'different'

    You know what the real problem is? We are overpopulating the planet to death. We are living like rats in a maze. We can't get along with our neighbors being too close. They take our food, water, jobs, even our way of life.

    It's been proven over and over again that animals that are forced to live in high concentrations will fight to the death over just about anything. We are just animals like that.

    Until the root cause is solved, nothing is going to change no matter how much hate and intolerance is tempered by blaming it on something, or someone else.

    Sorry for the rant, but that's just the way it is for me. There is not going to ever be a good solution for sharing the planet until we get our "go forth and multiply" mentality under control.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    Sorry I forgot about your first question. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is its official name. Signed in 2012 stopping the deportation of students, etc under aged 31.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    From the report:

    "Of all unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2012, 42 percent entered in 2000 or later. Entrants since 2005 comprised 14% of that total."

    It is 14% of the 42% who entered after 2000. Not of the overall population.

    While I can easily find percentages for illegal immigrants among the foreign born population - I cannot find any that relate directly to the population of the US as a whole. Which isn't really that relevant except that you are stating they make up 14% of the population of the US which is not what the report states.

    I understand part of your point in this Hub. I get it. I see their adorable selves on the news. At the same time, I see my friends and neighbors who are suffering.

    The current influx is just not something we can handle and not have it be detrimental to actual citizens in need.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Well, I would like to see the "new requirements" that you are referring to. What is this executive order called?

    Your last paragraph is not making sense to me. The 14% figure came from the DHS and it does refer to the total population of the USA. 14% of our current population is comprised of illegal immigrants.

    Remember when the Mexicans were going back home not too long ago? They couldn't find jobs, they were getting deported too quickly, they couldn't get amnesty, so many of them moved back home.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    You mean the "new" requirements that go against immigration law? The new requirements that Obama, with his pen, put into effect? Protecting those here illegally under 30? No that is directly from Obama.

    The most recent report posted is from January of 2012. That is why I gave you the source and numbers that I did - because it demonstrates that there most certainly is a current crisis.

    Also, I think you might have misconstrued that 14%. It is not a total percentage of the population - but that illegal aliens entering from 2005-to Jan. 2012 comprise 14% of the total population of illegal immigrants.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    @Sassy - I got that percentage of illegal aliens to general population straight from the latest Dept. of Homeland Security report. It is true that in this 14% the age range is because of "minors" entering from Central America.

    And no, Obama does not give out green cards like candy. To get a green card, these immigrants must meet the legal requirements and be granted by an immigration Judge, not Obama.

    I do agree that law enforcement is spotty at best and improvement is needed. Most of the illegals crossing this year are definitely being sent back to where they came from. This is a slow, tedious and difficult issue.

  • profile image

    SassySue1963 3 years ago

    "In fact, there simply is no current "crisis". The rate of illegal immigration has been steady since 1989, peaking in 1995 through 2004. The current percentage of illegal immigrants for the U.S.A. is holding at 14%. This is LESS THAN the percentage in 2000-2004 when it peaked at 28%."

    Not true. The surge of undocumented minors has tripled.

    "According to the Border Patrol, apprehension of unaccompanied children increased from 16,067 in FY 2011 to 24,481 in FY 2012 and 38,833 in FY 2013. During the first eight months of FY 2014, 47,017 children were apprehended, most of them from Honduras. If this flow continues at the current rate, the Border Patrol anticipates that 90,000 unaccompanied children could be apprehended by the end of the fiscal year "


    "The current President has deported MORE illegal immigrants than any other President in our nation's history."

    That's a fact, however, this President also just gave out green cards like candy to those who came here as children. That one event escalated the surge of illegal minors into the country because they and their parents believe they will be allowed to stay. They are being told they will be allowed to stay and the so-called Dreamers are being held up as proof.

    "It seems that there are no more border patrol check points north of Highway 285 "

    And that is certainly part of the problem as well. Enforce the laws, provide the funds to secure the border and stop rewarding people for illegally gaining entry into the country. After all, if there are no consequences and there is reward, why should anyone stop?

    Now, as for the Texans taking advantage - they should certainly be dealt with as well and harshly.

  • profile image

    sheilamyers 3 years ago

    I'll keep my main opinions about illegal immigrants to myself, because if I type them out, I'll get slammed by so many people it isn't worth it. I do want to thank you for pointing out the fact that there are American citizens who are more criminal than many of the people coming into this country. People worry about the criminals crossing the border from Mexico, but refuse to accept the truth of what our people are doing to the immigrants.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    I agree that overpopulation is going to be the downfall of humankind. We are breeding ourselves into extinction.

    P.S. - I don't believe in angels.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

    It boggles my mind when all of the inhumane things that are happening right here in this country in which I live and adore. It seems to have become a problem much bigger than anyone's ability to manage it???

    Angels are on the way ps

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Howdy Gus, I guess you know what these people go through too. It's a sad world sometimes. I just hate to see all the hate people have in their hearts for our neighbors.

    Thanks for the praise for my words.

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 3 years ago from USA

    Howdy Lela (AustinStar) -

    Good one.

    Gus :)


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