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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, May 21, 2006

Do you think a wall will stop them?

Karla Espindola, left, 6, and brother, Miguelito,
7, illegal immigrants from Mexico, crossing
the Arizona desert with a cousin who did not
want to be identified. Some 464 migrants died
last year on the same trip.

At Unforgiving Arizona-Mexico Border, Tide of Desperation Is Overwhelming

Published: May 21, 2006

ARIVACA, Ariz., May 18 — All the talk in Washington about putting walls and soldiers along the border with Mexico did not stop Miguel Espindola from trying to cross the most inhospitable part of it this week with his wife and two small children.

Their 6-year-old daughter, Karla, clutched her mother's back pocket with one hand and a bottle of Gatorade with the other as the family set out across the Sonora Desert on Thursday. Miguelito, 7, lugged a backpack that seemed to weigh almost as much as he did.

"Yes, there is risk, but there is also need," said Mr. Espindola, explaining why he had brought his children on a journey that killed 464 immigrants last year, and a 3-year-old boy this week.

Looking out at the vast parched landscape ahead, Mr. Espindola, a coffee farmer, talked about the poverty he had left behind, and said: "Our damned government forces us to leave our country because it does not give us good salaries. The United States forces us to go this way."

Here at ground zero for the world's largest and longest wave of illegal migration, about the only thing that is clear is that easy answers do not apply. During a drive along a narrow highway that runs parallel to the line, it is hard to see how increased law enforcement and advanced technologies will stop an exodus made up predominantly of Mexicans willing to risk everything.

Meanwhile, it becomes easier to understand the conflicting attitudes about migrants that have not only strained relations between the United States and its neighbors to the south, but also tested America's identity as a melting pot.

In the last five years, Arizona has become the principal, and deadliest, gateway for illegal migrants. It accounts for nearly one-third of the 1.5 million people captured for illegally crossing the border last year, and nearly half the migrants who died, according to the United States Border Patrol.

Those figures have inspired competing responses.

After the 3-year-old boy was found dead this week in the desert, some local law enforcement authorities called for charging his mother, Edith Rodriguez Reyes, with reckless endangerment. The authorities at the Mexican consulate here said Ms. Rodriguez was a victim of smugglers and demanded that she be released.

Desperate people do desperate things and no wall will stop them.

posted by Steve @ 12:22:00 AM

12:22:00 AM

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