Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mexican Nationals from Guatemala?

I'm looking for the transcript, but on KUAT-FM today (Tucson's NPR affiliate), I heard the local commentator mention the latest humanitarian crisis involving human smuggling across la frontera.
An air and ground search resumed today in the desert about 50 miles west of Phoenix for possible illegal immigrants who may be stranded.

As many as 100 migrants were found in the area yesterday, many suffering from dehydration and exhaustion from triple-digit heat.

Investigators believe the stretch of desert roughly halfway between Tonopah and Wickenburg was used as a stash area until immigrant smugglers could arrange transportation for the migrants.

Many of the rescued immigrants were from Guatemala.

Seven immigrants and three sheriff's deputies involved in the search were taken to hospitals.

The search for more immigrants was prompted by those rescued yesterday who told deputies that others were still in the area.
The KUAT speaker began the news blurb describing the immigrants as "Mexican nationals", at the tail end of the broadcast then decided to make mention that the majority of people found were from Guatemala.

So which is it? Guatemala or Mexico? Might sound like a trivial detail, but there's enough mis-information already out there and public hostility between the U.S. and our sister country to the south is raging, to provide an understatement.

The Arizona Republic gives a few more details on the situation west of the Phoenix metro area.
There have been reports that bodies can be found beside a tree, but none has yet to be found, Chagolla said.

At least seven immigrants and three sheriff's deputies were taken to hospitals for treatment because of ailments from the triple-digit heat, Arpaio said.

Officers used a helicopter, police dogs and all-terrain vehicles to augment patrols in the search.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Kempher said early Wednesday that deputies were pulled out of the desert when it got dark Tuesday. However, they left bottles of water in various spots and posted some deputies in the area until the search could resume Wednesday morning, Kempher said.

Authorities gave water to the immigrants, who were being turned over to federal immigration authorities.

The search area is west of the Hassayampa River and along Wickenburg Road, more than 20 miles north of Interstate 10, authorities said.

Lt. Chuck Siemens, who was in charge of the search operation, said some of the immigrants said they hadn't had water since Sunday and were desperate. "They were bombarding us for water. We passed out water bottles and it was a frenzy," he said.
There is a well-organized network of human smuggling going on everyday throughout the border region. What occurs is a money-exchange south of the border with the coyotes (smugglers) for safe passage and depending on the situation they are either dropped off at locations as mentioned above or "safe houses", many times under lock and key. If you've seen the movie The Gatekeeper, you will get a taste of the slave-like conditions these migrants often endure.

This lifestyle is not solely a Latino-based type of servitude. The Asian immigrant community has their own flavor of labor exchange to gain "freedom" here in the United States. Many are forced to work in the restaurants that most of us frequent when we're hungry for a good buffet.

Buen provecho...

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