Business Of Trafficking Undocumented Children
From El Diario
December 29, 2003
By Elizabeth Mora-Moss
Juan Carlos -- a Columbian from Medellín impatiently counted the
hours to December 22, 2003. That was the day that his six-year-old
would arrive. He hadn’t seen the child since he was 14 months old,
he was beginning to take his first steps and stammer his first words.
Juan Carlos’ son us one of the thousands of children from all over
world who cross the borders of the United State s illegally to reunite
with their parents. The federal government accepts that 1.5
undocumented immigrants that enter the country each year,
and that 200,000 to 300,000 of these are children under the age of
Most cross through Mexico.
The same authorities accept that with the current methods of security
and the difficulty of crossing the borders -- especially the
border -- many parents prefer to send for their children, paying
sums of money to those who specialize in smuggling people.
In addition, the fact that drug dealing is converting itself into a
multinational operation, coordinated by criminal organizations around
the planet and the world’s strong terrorist groups has led many
smugglers to abandon drug smuggling. Many have decided to pick up the
traffic of undocumented immigrants, an equally productive business
less danger. Their customers won’t report them and pay without a
as it is their own lives on the line, or the lives of their loved
The group that is most attracted to these “coyotes” are people with
children. “These people are alone and they pay so that they can have
their loved ones at their side,” said Michael Jordan, a father and a
one of the principle defenders of the legalization of undocumented
immigrants and family reunification. This project is opposed by all
conservatives forces in the United States. Because of this,
and Democrats have motive to oppose legalization as well, and
George Bush and the majority of Congress do not support a massive
During the holiday season, nostalgia for one’s family is stronger
ever. Many fathers like Juan Carlos work hard all year for the best
Christmas present: to bring ones children. It is something they are
willing to pay very good money for. The gangs that smuggle
immigrants know this.
Juan Carlos and his wife arrived together in Miami four years ago,
came to New York.
It was Juan Carlos’ wife Lina who contacted José, the coyote who was
coming with her son. “José has brought the children of several of my
married friends,” she said. Lina and Juan Carlos had to wait three
months for a quote. José works in coordination with several corrupt
officials on both sides of the Rio Grande, so that the coast is
On the 22 of December, José called early to inform them that he had
already set course for the airport with the children. In total there
were five people in charge of José, other coyotes had brought other
children , and everyone had gotten to their parents okay. “Today,
everyone travels with children, and it is easier to bring them
The coyote feels proud at not failing. “There are many coyotes that
leave children because it’s easier,” he said. That is true.
there are close to 2,000 undocumented children in centers of
In many cases, they do not know their last name or their nationality.
“It’s a drama,” says José.
The Catholic Church one of the entities that works most with
undocumented immigrants at the border has photos of dozens of
undocumented children as young as two years old. Some don’t even know
their first names. Many were found lost in the desert, or in cargo
The charge to bring a child into the United States varies depending
the country of origin and the child’s race. Mexican children pay
between $1,500 and $2,500. “But they pay more if their skin is
or if their hair makes it possible that they will be confused for
Caribbean,” said José. Central American children pay between $4,500
Columbians, Venezuelans, and Ecuadorians pay between $7,500 and
more for the costs of transport. Argentine children pay between
and $15,000. The most expensive are Asian children, whose costs are
between $30,000 and $45,000. “It’s expensive, but for parents to have
their children is the most important,” said José.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Spanish By Joshua Brustein