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This is Alejandro. He 8 years old and he is looking for his parents who are somewhere in the US. He has just been dumped on the north bank of the Rio Grande by immigrant smugglers.

Snakes and Thorny Brush, and Children at the Border Alone

Border agents drove their patrol vehicles one recent day at dusk through this spit of land on the bank of the Rio Grande. Here, in a place known as the Devil’s Corner, smugglers on the Mexican side have chosen to bring thousands of women and children to American soil.

After only a few minutes scouting the dirt roads, the agents came upon a cluster of illegal migrants, huddled in tall grass under palm trees, seeking respite from the baking heat. They made no effort to flee as the Border Patrol drove up.

“Where are your parents, Alex?” Chief Ortiz asked, using a nickname to put the boy at ease.

“In San Antonio,” he said.

But the child had no address for his family in the Texas city 250 miles to the north, or for an aunt in Maryland, which he thought was just as close. The agents gave him water and the boy smiled gratefully, not knowing that his journey, already three weeks long, would likely be a lot longer.

Families and children have become a high-profit, low-risk business for Mexican narcotics cartel bosses who, Chief Ortiz said, have taken control of human smuggling across the Rio Grande. They now offer family packages, migrants said, charging up to $7,500 to bring a minor alone or a mother with children from Central America to the American side of the river.

The border patrol agent told the reporter that he suspected that there was someone else in the group to whom Alejandro was attached, such as a neighbor or a cousin. Sorting that out would be part of the lengthy process that would take place once they got them back to the station.

As is being frequently reported there is something of a flood of women and children from Central America crossing the border. Many of the children are traveling on this very dangerous journey without their parents.

More than 52,000 minors traveling without their parents have been caught crossing the southwest border illegally since October, including 9,000 in May alone, a record.
Children being on their own as refugees and/or immigrants is nothing new. However, it is a situation with which most Americans have not come in contact. When I look at that picture, I find it impossible to view the situation in terms of impersonal statistics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That kid ought to be with his family (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    How hard does it suck that we've got dope cartels smuggling kids for money?

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 11:11:11 AM PDT

    •  Hopefully he will be with his family (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, YucatanMan, kfunk937

      once they are located.

      •  Richard Lyon, I have said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, Utahrd

        and I will repeat it here. But first this:

         

        Unicef...in 25 countries, thousands of children under the age of 16 have fought in wars.8 In 1988 alone, ...

        Recruiting child soldiers, under age 15, in both combat and support roles is considered a war crime that can be tried by the International  .

        I have written in comments that Mexico`s immigration war with the U.S. is one war that will be won without firing a shot. Now, we all understand that obviously adults South of the border and beyond are recruiting children to fight this war.

        One needs to be real naive or blind not to see this and think that it is the children on their own that keep coming..And they will continue  to come, it will not stop..until this war is won...and it will believe me.

        Talk about cartels and mules, or whatever or whoever is smuggling these children like Alex in you diary all we want, but clearly someone is really committing war crimes using Alex and the thousands of children, both boys and girls as political weapons of mass destruction.

        These are lessons of war going on all over the world, not just south of our borders.

        Only when immigration reform that includes a chance for Mexicans under certain criteria be granted citizenship, only then will this end. Again, without firing a shot.

        Old men tell same old stories

        by Ole Texan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:07:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Who would pay dope smugglers to smuggle a (0+ / 0-)

      child, other than those engaged in sex slavery?

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:25:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not really sure about what is going on there. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, nextstep, YucatanMan, kfunk937

        Obviously somebody had to pony up some money for the smugglers to deliver them there. Sex slavery doesn't seem very plausible since they aren't being delivered to anyone who could profit from that.

        One plausible conjecture is that family members who are in the US on undocumented status can't just return to Central America and bring their children with them. Perhaps they have supplied the funds.

        •  That is why I wrote in my comment, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon, nextstep
          Talk about cartels and mules, or whatever or whoever is smuggling these children like Alex in you diary all we want, but clearly someone is really committing war crimes using Alex and the thousands of children, both boys and girls as political weapons of mass destructio
          .

          It is the question I have really struggled with anytime I see the photos of thousands of children being held in corrals type of holding cells to be deported back to their countries.

          This in nothing new. What is really new is the surge of this war where now they come by the thousands at once without even hiding anymore.. Ambush type of assault to the land of the free and the statute of liberty.

          For me personally, it gets uglier, and the more I hear, "they are breaking the law", my skin crawls. I ask myself "who in the hell obey laws in this country these days?"

          But that`s just me.

          Old men tell same old stories

          by Ole Texan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:41:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Considering how there are an unknown number (3+ / 0-)

            of young children who died before they made it safely in the US, bringing those who make it to family members in the US will only encourage others to have their children smuggled.

            By returning these surviving children back to their country of origin, fewer young children will be smuggled.

            The policy is complex, but the above is only my first impression about the right policy for the interests of these children and the US.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:56:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think that it has a simple answer. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kfunk937

              The children who are now in custody of the border patrol need to be in a safe place. Accomplishing that is not likely to be easy. After seeing the NYT article this morning, I wrote this diary to put a human face on the matter.

              •  This is one topic that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Richard Lyon

                as is, will never have an end. I really appreciate you writing this dairy Richard, for it keeps the dialog on immigration in the right track of discussion.

                I am weary of reading so much and I came in today only because lately this life tragedy for immigrants has now come down to their children. It is all I see today, children being lassoed like cattle at the border, and their father is nowhere in sight.

                Thanks Richard for writing this.

                Old men tell same old stories

                by Ole Texan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 01:24:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  How hard does it suck that the USA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, kfunk937

      is mostly responsible for the conditions in most of Central America?

      How hard does it suck when US use policies make it impossible for 2 million subsistence farmers in Mexico to continue making a living off their land?

      How hard does it suck that those parents in the US cannot simply go get their children and bring them here safely?

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 01:43:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  correx: "US trade policies". n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kfunk937

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 01:45:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of people move here from big cities (0+ / 0-)

        So Mexico should raise the price of agricultural commodities and increase poverty and hunger in Monterrey, the DF, la Perla del Occidente, etc?

        Life in the US have improved as fewer of us work in agriculture.

        For as corrupt as our government is, our bureaucrats are rank amateurs at theft compared to the Mexican government.

        What if the Mexican government used some of its considerable oil revenue and revenue from its exports to the US to resettle those farmers to where they could make a living?  

        What if the Partido del Robo Institucional and the Partido de Engano Nacional didn't steal every peso they could get their hands on and buy condos in San Diego and put Cayman Islands bank managers at the risk of Karoshi?

        "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

        by Utahrd on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 02:48:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The present wave of children and women (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          YucatanMan, kfunk937

          are coming from Central America rather than Mexico.

          •  The US doesn't have free trade agreements with (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dr Swig Mcjigger

            Central America.

            I thought that free trade caused poverty?

            Costa Rica has the same trade policies, more or less, than Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.  Costa Rica is so prosperous that they just won their World Cup group.  

            Panama has a free trade agreement with the US.  Shouldn't Panama be the poorest country in the region?

            "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

            by Utahrd on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 03:25:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Panama is one of the places were we've (0+ / 0-)

              intervened most. We held the Canal zone. We invaded and overthrew the government. Yet, very few illegal immigrants come from Panama. We were also heavily involved in meddling in Nicaragua in the 80s and not many illegal immigrants come from there, either.

          •  That is very true Richard. (0+ / 0-)

            Those coming from Mexico come not to escape hunger or starvation. I lived among these people for years and even though most workers earn meager salaries, they always see for the children first.

            Now you go deeper into Latin America, that is not the case. Those coming into Mexico on their way to this country are robbed and beaten because Mexico has its own laws against illegal immigration. So Central Americans suffer the hunger and joblessness that every day Mexicans do not.

            Like I said those from Mexico coming here illegally are basically thrill seekers that come in seek of fortunes and of course to marry and become citizens, not because of hard times. Once here, you can hear them in the Cantinas singing songs of how they miss Mexico, but watch out for the Migra.

            Many folks that write about immigration fault the issue on Mexico alone. And like you say Richard, that is not the case.

            Old men tell same old stories

            by Ole Texan on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 03:27:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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