Migrants heading north to the United States not only have tougher immigration policies waiting for them north of the border, they have to pay a whole lot more to cross it.
The tariffs charged by smugglers, known as coyotes or polleros, to get migrants across the border through the mountains have increased close to 130%, reports the newspaper Reforma. Last November the fee was of US $3,500 but by January smugglers were charging up to $8,000, under the argument that new policies in the U.S. made the illegal crossing riskier.
Those who plan to enter the U.S. through border crossings — using documents of individuals with whom they have a close physical resemblance — are being charged more than $12,000.
Along with the increased costs migrants must face the risk of being kidnapped and tortured.
One of those who has seen it all is Efrén Guevara Galindo, who arrived in the U.S. as an eight-month-old baby, He has since been deported four times.
The last time for the 50-year-old construction worker was last December when he was deported from Dallas, Texas, to Acuña, Coahuila.
While trying to return to the U.S. from Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Guevara was kidnapped with other migrants by a criminal group identified as La Línea.
He and three others got off a bus and walked a few blocks before they were nabbed and spirited away in trucks to a nearby ranch.
“. . . we could hear people in other rooms, from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala. I could hear them talking because every 10 or 15 minutes [the criminals] took one of them out and made them call their families.”
Guevara said their kidnappers demanded $20,000 to let the Central American migrants go, and $10,000 for the Mexicans.
Guevara said he was assaulted trying to defend a 70-year-old man from the criminals, kicked several times and injured with a knife. After another beating he was left behind for dead in a remote location.
He is now recovering in a migrants’ shelter in Tijuana, Baja California, where he has decided not to cross the border again. He was torn by the decision because his wife, six children and 15 grandchildren remain in the U.S.
Guevara used to make $25 an hour but is now destitute and unemployed, “alone and with no possibilities of seeing my grandkids grow up.”