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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, May 07, 2006

How desprate are people?

Think a wall can stop them?

Migrants in U.S. Pay to Have Kids Smuggled

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer 16 minutes ago

TIJUANA, Mexico - Alejandro Valenzuela, a loquacious 12-year-old, memorized the details of a borrowed U.S. birth certificate and jumped in the front seat of his smuggler's car.

Tired from a two-day bus trip to the border from Mexico's central state of Jalisco, Alejandro soon fell asleep. He was awakened by the flashlight of a U.S. immigration inspector.

"I told him in English, 'I'm an American citizen,' but he kept asking questions. That's all the English I know," Alejandro said as he rested at a child welfare office back in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego.

Alejandro is one of a rising number of children trying to sneak into the United States without their parents. Some hide in cars or try to pass themselves off as U.S. citizens, while others ride inner tubes across the Rio Grande or trek through the harsh Arizona desert.

Since October, about 70,000 children have been detained along the Mexican border, a 5 percent increase over the same period a year earlier, the U.S. Border Patrol says.

Like Alejandro — who wants to get to Corona, Calif., to join a father he hasn't seen in nine years — most children are heading north to reunite with parents living illegally in the United States.

The Sept. 11 terror attacks prompted the United States to tighten security along its southern border, making it harder to sneak in. Rather than risking a return to Mexico to get their children, many migrants are paying smugglers to bring them north.

Experts say that number will likely increase if the U.S. Congress presses ahead with plans to tighten border security even more.

In the traditional method of crossing children, a smuggler drives across the border pretending to be a relative of the child, who is carrying false or "borrowed" documents. But border agents are giving closer scrutiny to documents, and smugglers are tyring other methods.

"We're seeing a very dangerous trend of stuffing minors in trunks, in hidden compartments, in washing machines, even in gas tanks," said Adele Fasano, director of field operations for the San Diego district of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Her district includes the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world's busiest border crossing.

Last August, border inspectors found a 10-year-old boy who had been sedated with cough medicine and crammed inside the dashboard of a van. The boy was unconscious and dehydrated, Fasano said.
He said most children are turned over to their families the same day they are repatriated by U.S. authorities. The rest go to a government-run shelter or the YMCA until they are picked up — when they often try to cross again.

But even when people get naturalized, family reunification can be really difficult and time consuming

posted by Steve @ 4:53:00 PM

4:53:00 PM

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