Friday, March 16, 2007

Crossing the Mexican Southern Border

TAPACHULA, Chiapas- In order to get a feel for the path that Central American immigrants take during their journey to Mexico, we rode along with Grupo Beta- a sort of humanitarian Border Patrol. Grupo Beta does not have the authority to deport or detain migrants. Instead, they offer food, water and let them know they can report Mexican officials who steal or try to bribe them. There is only one group of officials who can legally detain migrants on the southern border, but with the low wages they receive, it is no wonder they fall into the hands of corruption.

Migrants who get across the river (below) separating Guatemala and the state of Chiapas, then follow a trail guided by railroad tracks. They must somehow reach Arriaga, a town about four hours away, to hop on a freight train heading north. Walking along the tracks is the head of Grupo Beta, who is approaching a group of immigrants. The group saw his bright orange shirt and quickly scattered, thinking he was just another corrupt official.

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