The Dniester River with Moldova on the left and Transnistria on the right. Photo taken December 10, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Soroca, Moldova.

Where are they going next? Back to Chisinau, Moldova on Tuesday. Then the Wednesday overnight train back to Bucharest.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A taste of what the illegals feel

Many illegal aliens cross the Mexican border into the U.S. through the Sonoran Desert into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In fact, there are signs warning of the possibility of encounters with the migrants if you're out on the hiking trails, and of course a lot of border guard activity as well.

What a trip it must be for these people. No wonder some of them give up! Unfortunately, many don't give up. They simply die.

We did an 8 mile (13 km) hike yesterday in the hot desert sun. Good thing we knew enough to have lots of water with us. You really do get parched quickly in this dry environment.

These are one-way distances.

Our plan was to get to the Victoria Mine, and then decide whether we felt like going to the Lost Cabin Mine. Keeping in mind that we had to retrace our steps to get back to the campground.

Out in the desert.

Prior to the year 2000, most illegal border crossings occurred through border cities, not out in the wilderness. But the building of millions of dollars worth of fencing in the built up areas have pushed the migrants out into the remote areas. And in order to attempt to combat this, they've had to hire more border patrol agents. In fact, the number of U.S. border agents has more than doubled from 10,000 in 2004 to 21,140 in 2012. 18,000 of them work along the U.S. - Mexican border.

Today, more than half of all attempted migrant crossings occur here in the hot Sonoran Desert.

There sure are some big cactus out here!

And some oddball shapes and sizes.

In 2012, there were 463 recorded migrant deaths in the desert. 

A support group called Humane Borders have even installed emergency water stations in the hope that their efforts will save a life. As we hiked, we occasionally came across the empty black water bottles that the migrants often use because they think they are less visible. We were surprised at the amount of left over trash and the fact that it doesn't get cleaned up by park staff or volunteers. 

We made it to the old Victoria Mine, and decided to keep going.

Kevin and an Organ Pipe Cactus.

I had climbed up to that easily recognizable cactus where I found what appeared to be a stash of water in black bottles hidden in a crevice. Sometimes the "coyotes" (the people who organize illegal crossings) will hide water stops along the way. Usually for themselves, not the migrants!

Many of the successful migrants will have hiked more than 75 miles (120 kms) across the baking hot desert.

Our path towards Lost Cabin Mine.

Whats left of a dead Saguaro Cactus.

A little bit of shade.

We found a spot that had some shade where we stopped for lunch. There's not much shade available here, and you could tell this spot had been used many times by migrants. There were many leftover empty water bottles left in the crevices to the left.

Sunset at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

We completed our 8 mile (13 km) hike without any problems. But we had lots of water, lots of food, and sufficiently layered clothing that we could have survived longer if necessary. Many migrants also begin their hike with probably the same amount of supplies that we had. However their hike is 10x longer!

Dusk.

With the recent increase in the strength of the U.S. dollar, many more migrants will head north in an attempt to make a better life for themselves. While many will cross successfully, the number of deaths will also increase.


36 comments:

  1. Very interesting post. I like the sunset picture, other than that, the desert does not appeal to me much. I can't imagine trekking across it!

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    1. We love the desert and cactus for a little while but that is about it. We really miss the trees and we are getting to that point now.

      Just hiking those 8 miles and then yesterday another 10 miles, just makes us wonder how on earth they manage it!

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  2. I can't begin to imagine the desperation needed to cross that desert. Happy in my own skin.

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    1. Neither can we but many of them do it to try and better their lives and they think this is the only way to do that.

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  3. Great post, great hike and a gentle reminder how those of us fortunate enough to live in the first world take so very much for granted.

    20 Years From Now

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    1. Thanks Dianne, and yes I think too many times people here take their lives for granted.

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  4. Having lived near Sasabe, AZ, Laredo, TX, Alamo, TX as well as a few other border areas, we've seen first hand quite a few illegals and a lot of illegal activity. It's just heartbreaking to see the fear, the pain and the desperation when folks are detained by Border Patrol and they know they'll be sent back and have to start all over again.

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    1. We can believe that and many of them will try again.

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  5. You might like Buners Ares wildlife park to the south of you. I doubt that spelling is correct. They use to offer guided hiking tours. We found it very interesting.

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    1. Thank you Carl! We won't be headed that far this time as we are now headed to Tuscon but we will try to keep that in mind to our next visit to this area.

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  6. Wondered if you had been stopped by a border patrol yet, we always carry our passports with us just in case.
    We have seen a few picked up and taken back across the border over the years.

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    1. A couple of times we have had to stop at a couple of the check points but only for a minute or so otherwise we just get waved through.

      Coming down here the other day we had a vehicle speeding towards us in our lane before going back in his own lane with at least two border patrol vehicles chasing behind him with their lights flashing. That added a bit of excitement to our afternoon!

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  7. When you are out exploring the desert and feel you are out there by your self, believe me you are not. Just take your binoculars and look at the highest points around you, you can see the cameras the boarder patrol is watching you with. I use to have a VW camper and even 40 years ago I was constantly being stopped and checked out, especially if I stopped off the road in the desert there. It's sad that people die trying to better themselves.

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    1. I am sure we aren't alone, although we could have used them yesterday on our hike but no one came to our rescue! ;-)

      I think if you decide to live here or visit here then it is just something that you have to deal with and accept otherwise if people don't like it then they should move or not visit the area. It is part of life here and it doesn't look like it is going to change any time soon. We can't get over the amount of money spent protecting the border or the man power needed and yet people and drugs are still getting through.

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  8. Thank you for your informative post. I have seen TV programs about the boarder happenings. Of course we have the boat immigrants that also put their lives into money hungry - ruthless criminal hands, here in Australia. The world truly gets wackier. ....

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    1. We have found that most countries have problems with illegals getting through the borders. There will always be people who think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and I guess in some cases this is true.

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  9. Very interesting post. It's funny that we love Mexico so much and are enjoying our time here immensely; yet people who were born here are dying (literally) to escape. We are very fortunate that we have the money to enjoy all this beautiful country has to offer, while they do not, and thus cannot.

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    1. Yes, it is funny. We have talked to Mexican friends who would like to come up to the US and we tell them that they are often better off to stay in Mexico. Things aren't always better or easier on the other side of the border but they see what people have from watching TV and think that they can also achieve that but sometimes our money hunger lives forget about some of the better things in life don't cost money.

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  10. I don't mean to sound mean...but, that is all fine and dandy that they are supplying water to save a life...but. It really upsets me that they leave our country a mess. I don't think it is the Park Rangers responsibility to pick up after the illegals. Maybe the same people that are leaving water need to educate these people on manners.

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    1. Unfortunately this is not realistic. These people crossing are crossing illegally and the last thing on their mind is making sure to take their garbage with them, as they are fighting to stay alive in the desert. All things considered there isn't a lot of garbage but we did notice in certain areas like around the mines, which is where they probably take time to eat or rest is a little more noticeable. It wouldn't take long for the rangers to pick it up once a week or so.

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  11. Paul and marshaI I think it is hard to educate someone with manners having an empty stomach don´t you think so.Just saying.

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    1. We have to agree with you jonyboytj, their first and foremost thought is getting out of the desert alive and without being caught. I am sure the thought of garbage doesn't even cross their minds.

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  12. I hate seeing garbage left in nature, I do believe the rangers should pick up the garbage or organize volunteers to do so. I think a lot of people would be willing to do so. A sad situation all around.

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    1. The actual amount of garbage left behind is staggering---an average of eight pounds per immigrant---and I hate seeing it in our beautiful desert. But picking it all up and hauling it away would be a tremendous, expensive undertaking.

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    2. What we saw didn't seem too bad but I am sure that if you added it all up then it would amount to a lot. It would be nice if they were able to just clean it up around the "attractions" on the trail and by the trail itself,. I know that it would be totally impossible to clean the whole desert up. Having said that it seems that in both Canada and the US we as a society still have a problem with garbage, we saw the effects of this along the highway today and that wasn't from the illegals!

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  13. Nice post Kevin. It does seem that we are working harder with less success since throwing fencing and more money at the problem. It is a sad situation. Love your pictures - the mountains behind Ruth in Out in the desert, the clouds with Ruth and that enormously tall cactus, your Victoria Mine Picture, you with the Oregon Pipe, the sunset the last shot. Really good pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

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    1. It is Sherry, and I don't know if it will ever get better or how they can create a system that will work all around!

      Glad that you enjoyed the pictures.

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  14. We have looked out over that same desert and wondered at the desperation people must feel to be able to even attempt it. I am pretty sure I never could but then you never really know what you are capable of given the situation. A great post!

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    1. You are so very right on that! You don't know what goes through their minds until you have lived in their shoes.

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  15. People aren't escaping from Mexico. Mexicans make a choice to make a life at home or in another country fed sometimes by false promises and images. Immigration is something that happens all over the world. Thousands of people immigrate to Mexico from all around the world for various reasons. My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in 1911, I immigrated to Mexico in 1985. Mexico is a free country and people have a choice of what they do with their lives.

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    1. I agree entirely Chris but so many are attracted by that false promise of wealth and luxury NOB that they are willing to risk everything.

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    2. Sadly, it is not a false promise. Economic conditions (and thus daily wages) are vastly better north of the border. Better enough that coyotes and death are worth the risk.

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    3. Dugg, illegal immigrants do not end up with the high paying jobs that some Americans enjoy. The lucky ones get minimum wage "car wash" type jobs while most line up on street corners hoping for day labor work. After buying food and paying rent at rates much higher than in MX, they have nothing to send home.

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    4. Dugg and Croft, you are both correct. We personally know some Mexicans who work illegally in the U.S. six months to two years at a time, making decent money ($14 an hour) working semi skilled labor jobs.

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    5. The one main thing that can help in Mexico is education. We know many Mexicans that do well for themselves and have no need to cross into the States to better their lives, I just wish that more can realize this and get the education that is needed to improve their lives.

      As Kevin said Mexicans can make money to send home, they live in a home with other Mexicans/friends and share the rent, they don't try to live as we would and that is how they manage to save money to send home. Also in many cases they don't intend to live in the States permanently (although some do) but instead make enough that they can buy some land and build they own homes back in Mexico.

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