Yesterday, The LA Times published an interesting look at the plight of older and unfit migrants in the face of increasing security of the border.
The story focuses on Mari Paz, a mother of four who wanted to come to the United States to visit a son who she hadn’t seen in five years, offering a rare glimpse into what many migrants are willing to go through to enter this country.
Mari Paz, who is only identified by her first name in the article, lacked the resources necessary for a tourist visa so she hired smugglers to lead her from a Tijuana neighborhood over the border. First, she tried to gain entry by jumping the single fence South of Otay Mesa but was caught by Border Patrol agents who made her return to Mexico the way she came.
Later that day, she tried again using a secret door in the fence but was once again stopped by the Border Patrol.
The next day, smugglers led Mari Paz and 14 other women in an attempt, crossing via the double border fence near an Otay Mesa industrial park.
Smugglers hung a flimsy metal ladder from the 15-foot height. When Mari Paz reached the top, she almost lost her nerve. “I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ … I was so scared. But then I thought to myself, everything is for my son.”
She jumped into the arms of the smugglers. But three Border Patrol agents showed up and arrested them. The next day, she tried the same route again and was caught by the same agents, she said.
On another attempt, the smugglers brought Mari Paz to a muddy drainage ditch and told her to crawl through a pipe into a network of storm drains. Mari Paz declined.
After fracturing her knee during another unsuccessful attempt to scale the fence, Mari Paz piled into the back of a van with 14 other people in a failed attempt to cross with the help of a corrupt border inspector.
She finally gave up.
At home, Mari Paz said she would have forceful advice to offer any of her three sons contemplating a journey to the U.S.: “I don’t want any of them to cross. Because it’s so hard and so sad.