13 August 2007

Unintended consequences in the coyote industry

Via Hit & Run, I found Debbie Nathan's feminism-and-immigration themed blog, where she describes some interesting consequences of Bush's move to criminalize employment of undocumented immigrants:

Jose has crossed solo several times in the past 15 years to work in agriculture. Lately, though, stepped up border enforcement has made it so difficult to get past Laredo that he’s taken to hiring a coyote for $1300. He knows lots of people who’ve always used smugglers, and until recently, he says, the coyotes were a nasty lot. “They would cross 40 people at a time, impose the charges at the border, make everyone walk three to six days to San Antonio, often rob customers, and frequently rape the women travelers.”

But now, Jose says, all those Border Patrol agents are having an effect. It’s so hard to cross now that fewer people are coming. This has created intense competition among the coyotes, who have responded by vastly improving their services.

“Now, they pay your way on a first-class bus from your home town to the border. They cross only 8 people at a time. After they get you to the US side, you only have to walk a few hours because they’ve made arrangements with farmers in South Texas to put you up for the night, even feed you. And some of those farmers are gringos,” Jose adds. “Then they put you in vans and drive you to Houston.”

“And they’re much nicer to women now. No more robberies. No rapes. They know it will get out by word of mouth, and they desperately want to maintain and expand their customer base.”

Good reporting -- will be checking out Debbie's blog more often.