Still Lure Mexicans to U.S.
Mon Oct 21, 3:23 AM ET
By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Writer
LOS CONOS, Mexico (AP) - Janeth Molina knows how harrowing it is
to stow away on a train in pursuit of the American dream. She did
it three years ago.
And despite hearing that two cousins from Los Conos were among
11 migrants found dead in a locked rail car in Iowa last week, she
said she would risk it again.
"It's a terrible journey, but arriving to a job and a life that
is so much better is worth it," she said.
Molina, a soft-spoken single mother of two, lives across the road
from the home of 23-year-old Roberto Esparza, whose ID card was
found along with that of his teenage cousin among the decomposing
bodies discovered in a boxcar last Monday in Denison, Iowa. The
migrants apparently were cooked alive by the summer sun.
In June 1999, Molina took a journey nearly identical to Esparza's,
leaving this village of limited opportunities and hopping a train
at the border. Unlike Esparza, she succeeded.
Molina spent two years in Harrisonburg, Va., working at a chicken
processing plant where she earned $400 a week. She returned to Los
Conos last August when her daughter fell ill and now works 12-hour
days as a cook at a Nissan factory in the nearby city of Aguascalientes.
Her salary is $40 a week.
Like Esparza, Molina's journey began when she got on a bus with
a smuggler she met in Los Conos and rode to Matamoros, across the
border from Brownsville, Texas.
She waited two days, then returned to the bus station in the middle
of the night and met two men who showed her and two other migrants
where to wade across the Rio Grande.
"Before I went I was most afraid of drowning in the river," said
Molina, 28. "But the crossing was over in five minutes."
Once in U.S. territory, the guides led the migrants to a group
of 10 other migrants and drove the group to a nearby rail yard.
After several hours, a train bound for Houston stopped in the yard
and Molina and 12 men and women from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador
(news - web sites) and Ecuador climbed aboard an open-air rail car
packed with clear-plastic bags filled with garbage.
A stiff rain fell as the train began moving, she recalled, and
the car reeked with trash and sweat.
At dawn Molina was awakened by the frantic whispers of a man beside
her. U.S. Border agents were searching the train, which had stopped
to pick up more cargo.
The migrants scattered, scrambling farther down the train over
rain-slicked metal ledges. Molina hid in a car filled with brake
pads, then squeezed in among a pile of crates. Finally, she crawled
into a car filled with aluminum siding.
The train eventually started moving again, and three men were there
to meet the migrants when they arrived in a Houston freight yard
24 hours later. Molina paid one of the men $1,500 for her crossing,
then drove with him to Alabama.
There she called her brother, who had been living in Virginia for
14 years. Now a U.S. citizen, her brother picked her up and drove
her to Harrisonburg.
"I liked it there in the United States," said Molina. "There they
pay you well and your life is different. There is enough money that
no one is miserable, like everyone here."
Molina said she applied for a U.S. work visa, but was told she
would not receive one following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
She said the American government has given her no choice but to
cross the border illegally for a second time.
"I would really like to go back but now I'm afraid," she said.
"The next time what happened to Roberto could happen to me."
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