Guest-Worker Debate Boosts Alien-Smuggling Business; 'Coyotes' Boast of Capitalism in Illegal Trek to U.S

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 9, 2006 | Go to article overview

Guest-Worker Debate Boosts Alien-Smuggling Business; 'Coyotes' Boast of Capitalism in Illegal Trek to U.S


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

SASABE, Mexico - SASABE, Mexico - The old brickyard, known here as "la ladrillera," is the last stop in Mexico for many migrants headed illegally into the United States.

This is where the "coyotes" give last-minute instructions to their human cargo, who each will pay fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 to be guided on the sometimes-deadly northbound trek into America. It's a three-day walk through the desert, where temperatures often climb above 110 degrees.

For Gilbert Reyes, a self-proclaimed capitalist, the business to be in is alien smuggling. And, yes, business is "very good": The number of illegals crossing into the U.S., always high in this area, has risen steadily over the past two years - ever since President Bush first announced his "guest worker" program.

"They want to get into the United States, and they are willing to do almost anything, even walk for miles and miles in the desert," said Reyes, a tall, thin man with a distinctive mustache and a pearl-handled knife stuck in a leather sheath on his belt.

Reyes, who introduced himself and four associates during a meeting here last week as "successful local businessmen," said his "customers" think they "can go into America and get a pass to stay."

"Maybe they can. Maybe they can't," he said.

Hundreds of migrants arrive here every day from throughout Mexico, others coming from Central and South America and elsewhere. They crowd into the town's numerous shacks and tents during daylight hours to await the call to assemble for their nighttime dash into America.

Some are beaten and robbed before they ever step foot in this dusty town of 4,000. Some of the women will be raped.

But they keep coming.

U.S. law-enforcement authorities and elected officials in Arizona say large numbers of migrants now flooding into the United States are hoping to cash in on what they perceive as an amnesty program if they can establish residence and a work record in this country.

These migrants are bolstered by the much-publicized debate in Congress over immigration reform and "guest workers" - and by the millions of pro-immigration and pro-amnesty supporters who defiantly have rallied in cities throughout the United States.

The Border Patrol has reported a 6 percent increase in the number of apprehensions of illegal aliens along the 1,951-mile U.S.-Mexico border since Oct. 1, with more than 724,600 illegals arrested. That's more than 4,000 arrests a day.

More than half of those arrests have taken place in Arizona, mostly over a long-established alien-smuggling corridor that begins in Altar, Mexico, 60 miles south of this Sonoran border town, and runs northbound through the desolate Altar Valley in Arizona, southwest of Tucson.

Looking to make connections along State Highway 86 and Interstate 10, the illegals already have paid their fees during negotiations in Altar, where they also bought water, food, backpacks and other supplies.

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Guest-Worker Debate Boosts Alien-Smuggling Business; 'Coyotes' Boast of Capitalism in Illegal Trek to U.S
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