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Southwest Border Stories of Smuggling and Immigration

In Interview with a Coyote, posted Jan. 15, 2012, a former coyote, who we call Alejandro, describes how he crossed people through the Southwest desert, helping them arrive at cities throughout the United States. He also relates how he evaded the tighter border security after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and how transnational criminal organizations have taken control over the increasingly profitable and dangerous border smuggling businesses.

Alejandro tells his story.

Alejandro the coyote tells his story. (Watch the video.)

Sealing the Southwest Border: Accounts from Hidalgo and Cochise Counties is an in-depth written report on the problems that Southwest border residents have experienced since the Department of Homeland Security made it more difficult for undocumented migrants and drug and human smugglers to enter the United States at the traditional border cities and crossing routes. Richard J. Schaefer and Carolyn Gonzales drew upon primary sources from both sides of the border, as well as written accounts to document the sense of living in a "no-man's-land" that border residents feel. (Download a PDF version of the report.)

In preparation for the above report, Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer spent a few days in September and October 2010 talking to ranchers, farmers, law enforcement officials and other residents of Grant and Hidalgo Counties in southwest New Mexico and Cochise County in southeast Arizona.  Edited video versions of those interviews are available below: 

The Border is Not Black and White, Douglas, Ariz., Police Chief Alberto Melis interview with Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer of the Cross-Border Issues Group on Oct. 1, 2010.  

Smuggling and the Law Enforcement Economy of Douglas, Ariz.,Douglas, Ariz., Police Chief Alberto Melis interview with Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer of the Cross-Border Issues Group on Oct. 1, 2010.  

Ranchers & Residents of Hidalgo County, N.M. on Sealing the Border and Intimidation, Hidalgo County, New Mexico residents interview with Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer of the Cross-Border Issues Group on Oct. 4, 2010.

Recent History of Border Crime and Migration in Hidalgo County, Hidalgo County, New Mexico residents interview with Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer of the Cross-Border Issues Group on Oct. 4, 2010.

Rancher and Farmer Problems on the New Mexico Border with Mexico, Hidalgo County, New Mexico residents interview with Carolyn Gonzales and Richard Schaefer of the Cross-Border Issues Group on Oct. 4, 2010.

Cecil Waldrip on the History of Migration and Smuggling in Grant County, New Mexico, Southern New Mexico resident Cecil Waldrip tells Carolyn Gonzales about the recent history of migration and drug transport in Grant County, November 2010.

Cecil Waldrip Tells the Story of Ray Freeman, Southern New Mexico resident Cecil Waldrip tells Carolyn Gonzales about convicted drug smuggler Ray Freeman’s activities in Grant County, November 2010.

Also see:  

Border SecurityTechniques in the Southwest, posted in 2012, featuring U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ralph Gomez describing the tactics used to thwart unauthorized crossers in the El Paso Sector.

Funnel Effect in the Arizona Desert, from 2009, featuring Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith and Robin Rieneke talking with CBIG and the CBIG page, Closing the U.S.-Mexico Border and the Funnel Effect.

Carolyn Gonzales UNM Today blog “CBIG Visits Altar, Sonora, Mexico” about the staging area for migrants coming north.