For centuries, the opportunities that America provides have resulted in millions of immigrations, which have been both legal and illegal. Mexico is one of the closest countries, in physical proximity, to the United States. Each year many people arrive at its heavily guarded borders, in the hope of making the journey across. Although each individual’s reason for attempting the dangerous journey is different, most are willing to risk their lives for the increased opportunities that America represents. The most prevalent reason is the need to provide for a family back home, but migrants also include those trying to get away from war-torn homes and countries. A significant percentage of the people trying to cross the border include many that have already been deported from the United States, and have firsthand knowledge of what life is like in the country.
Although added security at the US border has significantly decreased the amount of migrants that attempt the journey, there are still towns in Mexico that are dedicated to the trafficking of these individuals. These towns, and the human trafficking trade, are controlled by the Mexican Drug Cartel, known as ‘La Mafia.’ Many of the country’s citizens believe that the cartel has infiltrated the Mexican government and authorities, who often turn a blind eye to the trafficking. One town that is still dedicated to the trafficking is Altar, Mexico, which is an hour’s drive from the border in Sasabe, Arizona.
‘La Mafia’ employs individuals to accompany the migrants through the desert, to get to their American destination. These ‘coyotes,’ or ‘polleros,’ collect a fee of between $3500 and $4500 for the journey, as well as a $700 ‘tax’ for the cartel. Those that risk crossing without the cartel’s authorization are often murdered or kidnapped. Many of the potential migrants arrive at the border without the necessary fee, and are given the option of becoming ‘mochilandos,’ or drug mules. If they agree, they are provided with a backpack that has been filled with drugs to take to the other side. Many fear having to take this route, however, as the majority of ‘mochilandos’ are killed once they get across.
In addition to the threat of dying at the hands of the drug cartel, there are other risks associated with crossing the desert including: dehydration, acquiring an injury, or passing out from the high temperatures. Many of the ‘polleros’ are unable to make it to the other side, but for the lucky ones life in America starts after the journey. The US border patrol also has checkpoints, through which authorized individuals can pass. Selected migrants also attempt this route, for a higher price, with fake id that has been provided by the cartel.