More than 500 undocumented migrants attempting to reach the United States were detained by Mexican authorities over the weekend after being kept in what could be considered inhumane conditions.
Through a series of operations, authorities discovered that smugglers were trafficking the migrants by way of unventilated trucks with no food or water.
More than 200 others were also found in the state of Tamaulipas, which borders the U.S., amid over-crowded “safe houses” often used by criminal gangs.
According to U.K. Daily Mail, migrants — over 100 of them minors — had paid up to $4,000 to their traffickers to bring them in.
The detention of so many undocumented migrants comes amid increased pressure in Washington about southern U.S. border control and the firestorm that comes from both political parties.
On Monday, Congress launched a debate regarding a proposal from President Donald Trump that would grant citizenship to nearly 1.8 million immigrants that were brought to the U.S. as children.
The citizenship grant would be in exchange for tougher regulations and cutbacks on immigration and $25 billion to tighten America’s southern border, including building a wall.
In further operations surrounding tighter border security, 100 undocumented Guatemalans and Hondurans were detained Saturday, at least 41 of them being minors.
The group had been found in the western state of Jalisco, hidden within two buses. Each of them paid between $5,000 and $7,000 to their smugglers.
Another operation found that 53 Guatemalans — 13 of them minors — were found in the notoriously violent eastern state of Veracruz, hidden away in an unventilated truck.
In both of the operations, a total of nine people were arrested on charges of human trafficking.
The operations, along with several others where hundreds of migrants have been found, is said to be part of a crackdown by the current administration which seeks to have a stricter control on border safety.
However, several efforts have been instituted to help migrants realize these smugglers aren’t always what they seem — as demonstrated by the harsh conditions they are often found in.
“The smugglers are the ones that are taking these folks out into these extreme desolate areas, and unfortunately, they’re lying to them. They’re leaving them out there,” said Steven Passement, the acting special operations supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona sector.
“Those are the realities that we want folks to understand and know before coming,” he added, warning of the prolonged duration of the journey that could become a nightmare, with many migrants often being beat or raped before being left behind in the desert.
“In the Tucson sector, we want a message that this is not the environment you want to cross in,” he says. “We want to make this as difficult as possible for the smugglers.”
And though Passement suggests that Border Patrol agents have been stepping up the effort of humanitarianism, designating more than 30 rescue beacons throughout the Arizona desert, the situation is only getting more difficult as tensions increase.
The special operations supervisor insists that, besides tighten security, agents also want to work with non-governmental organizations to help those migrants that are in distress, who are often fleeing already violent homes.
“The border’s changed drastically over the years. There’s more technology now, more manpower, more infrastructure, so the chances of being detained or apprehended are greater than ever before,” Passement said.
“We look forward to trying to work with these individuals, these groups, come together because I’ll tell you we have a similar goal,” he added. “We want to save lives.”
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