Recently, a human smuggler went public with inside secrets about his “profession.”
How much of this news story is true? That’s a million dollar question.
Whenever someone being interviewed is sheltered from public questioning, many suspicions are bound to arise.
And the interviewee in this story is an alleged Honduran coyote who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.
Coyotes are not the most trust-worthy or honest individuals in the world, a fact even the Fusion reporters openly acknowledge.
Hence, this story could very well be contrived.
Central American children arriving at the U.S. border-60,000 unaccompanied minors have been caught by U.S. border agents since October-are not making the trek alone. Many kids are guided north by coyotes, human traffickers hired to help migrants navigate the dangerous journey thousands of miles away, passing through several countries.
What is a coyote?
The term coyote is a Spanish word which refers to the practice of guiding immigrants for a fee across the Mexico-United States border.
Nonetheless, for two reasons, I am inclined to think the interview is authentic.
First, I respect the quality and integrity of the work performed by Fusion news reporter Jorge Ramos.
Second, in my practice as a Riverside immigration attorney, I’ve gained some secondhand and thirdhand knowledge about how smugglers work.
Based on such insights, it seems there is a good deal of correlation in the coyote’s commentary.
On the other hand, I do not accept his statements hook, line, and sinker.
The coyote interviewed by Fusion, however, does not pretend to speak for all smugglers. He is presumably a coyote from Honduras and his comments are made in the context of the current Central American youth refugee crisis.
The coyote says he brings six people to the United States every month, earning a total of $6,000, which he calls a good living for Honduras.
Minors are charged $5,000 each. All the coyote has to do is get them to the border — a four-day trek.
It’s “the biggest and best business that could have been created,” the coyote says.
“It’s a better business than drugs,” he added. But the drug cartels are involved, taking a bite along the way – on parts of the route they control in Mexico, he says.
The coyote’s rates might seem high for impoverished Central Americans, but he says it’s the cost of business in an industry where most of the money goes to paying bribes along the way. Visas, passports, checkpoints all come with a price, he says.
Although I have assisted many immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador with their asylum cases throughout my deportation defense career, the current Central American exodus has raised a few novel issues.
From the outset of the huge influx at U.S. borders, I assumed there were immigration fraud and smuggling rings already playing an active role in the journeys of some children.
Unfortunately, many of my colleagues dismissed my concerns.
Several wanted to turn a deaf ear because they feared a political backlash.
Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that my fears were on point. The Fusion interview lends further credence.
Here is the video replay of the first part of the Fusion interview: