Immigrants Headed for the US Turn to Sea Travel as Land Patrolling Intensifies

Immigrants Headed for the US
Central American immigrants are turning to the sea to reach the United States. (La Opinión)

EspañolDue to immigration pressure on land and areas controlled by drug cartels, many illegal immigrants are choosing to enter the United States by sea.

Every night, dozens of immigrants near the border travel through Chiapas, pass through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Veracruz and end up in Tamaulipas.

“There are three or four daily boats around here that leave with 15 or 20 chickens each,” Gabriel Ortega, a councilor to the mayor of Mazatan, Mexico, said

It is estimated that 400,000 people travel through Mexico each year trying to reach the United States, most of them from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where poverty and violence run rampant.

“Many people are involved in this and some prisoners have already been detained,” said a former coyote interviewed by the newspaper El País.

The former coyote was also a fisherman, and for many years was dedicated to transporting Central Americans across the border. They explained that human trafficking is an alternative to shrimp fishing “because the sea no longer feeds.”

Immigration by sea shares several characteristics with land immigration: polleros or coyotes have the authority and knowledge to move people.

“Pay 8,000 pesos (US $400) and go,” the coyote said through an audio message on WhatsApp. “And if somebody is afraid … they will pay you, and if not, you throw them out and let them go by land, it’s better for you.”

The advantage of going by sea is that illegal immigrants avoid border controls between Guatemala and Mexico. Each person pays between US $400 $800 for the service, though there are no official figures on the price for such a service.

“The route had been hidden and was dedicated to drug trafficking but in recent months it has been systematized as a route to transport people,” Jose Luis Gonzalez, a Jesuit priest who works with refugees, said.

Immigrating on the “beast train” is more difficult than before. Last year, the Mexican government ordered the train speed up to 60 kilometers per hour from 30, making it more difficult for people to ride it illegally.

Source: El País

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