Migration and Culture

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                                The Coyote

    I would like the critics of immigration to think of the coyotes while you read this paper. The coyote has the easiest job pertaining to illegal immigration. They are paid well and once they have done there job, they can go on there way with a fat wallet and no worries. The immigrants who pay these people their loot of cash that they most likely saved for who knows how long, are now the new victims of these coyotes. These illegal immigrants now must find shelter and jobs to start their new lives in the United States. I would like to show both stories of these two types of people on different paths. The coyote that transports the immigrants across the border and the immigrant who now has to start a new life from scratch.

            I chose this topic because I found it most interesting to me and the fact that I have known both illegal immigrants and coyotes. This topic relates to migration and culture because it is one of the biggest businesses along the bordering states of the United States.

This is one of the biggest population increases into our country. Along with these new immigrants will be their culture, just because their new home is in United States does not mean they will live like Americans. Their culture will flourish through their homes, clothes and food. Immigrants will flow to the neighborhoods and areas of the city that host most of their people. Hispanics will likely find pro-Latino neighborhoods just like Asians will migrate to china towns or similar Asian neighborhoods. This is where their culture will be ultimately displayed. For Latino’s west and south Phoenix in Arizona have become havens for these new immigrants. The majority of the areas have Spanish speaking people working at the stores and a Hispanic orientated environment. If you don’t believe me trying visiting south or west Phoenix and see the stores or just the front yards of the homes in these areas. There is a big Hispanic culture expressed at the stores and neighborhoods.

            Above all I would like to accomplish those of you who read this paper to be more educated on immigration and the players, and to try and understand the thinking and risk taking ideas of these new immigrants in and out of our country.

            I grew up in West Phoenix 20 years ago, and I actually moved out of there 7 years ago. Although I moved I did not take to my new residence well. I still belonged to the west side of Phoenix which is highly Hispanic natured. I would find myself traveling longer distances and time consuming trips to take care of my daily practices. So my life still revolved around this area, although I left years ago it has remained a part of my life.

            While I remained in these areas I was dating a girl for 5 years who was from Mexico City. She and her family came across legally but with out citizenship and residence. Back in the early eighties her father was one of the most prestigious Christians priests in Mexico City and at the time Mexico wanted to send him to the United States to spread his word knowing the big immigration influx in Arizona. So the deal was set with Arizona to allow him in his family in the United States for a 5 year mission. Once his work was done they were to return to Mexico. While living in Arizona they added to their family. Her mother experienced the better life that most Americans take for granted. She ultimately wanted to stay. Her husband refused and in a short time period he became disgruntled and left the family in Arizona. Since the arrival of new members in the family born in America her and her family were able to stay.

            In the mid nineties was when I first really experienced the daily life of her family. Although I had been Hispanic and around these lifestyles all my life I never really experience it first hand. It was now part of my life. My family is Hispanic but I would like to call it more of a Chicano type family, were as my girlfriends family although lived in the United States for more than a decade were still living to their culture in Mexico.

            In the Hispanic world Mexicans do not like Chicanos. Chicano’s are Mexicans who are now Americanized. Where Mexicans stayed true to the culture and live no differently then they started. I was a Chicano living in a Mexican world. I spent all my time away from home and into my new environment with my girlfriend and her family.

            These are the times were I experienced the immigration and the coyotes who brought them here. As time went on I grew closer to her family and I knew what the family knew. There were no more hidden secrets. Her mother would host illegals for short periods of time so that they could establish a new foundation in their new country.

            While they stayed I got to know most of these people who will remain anonymous. They were just like anyone else with young children and hopes and dreams of provided a better lifestyle for their children. I asked them many questions without trying to probe too far into their personal business. These were questions to satisfy my own curiosity instead of trying to write a paper. I did not know that these experiences would help me in the future. As I spoke with them most of the people’s replies for leaving their home in Mexico was to achieve a better life for their children. They explained that Mexico was completely different than here. The schools in Mexico didn’t care about their children’s education. An education was a big price to pay for any family trying to put food on the table. In Mexico you have to pay for an elementary education and so on. The children knew no different how their lives would be changed by the drastic migration to the United States. Other reasons would include better jobs, medical insurance, better all around life and dignity. Some of the men I talked to responded by saying they could not afford their own home in Mexico. They would have their own family but live with someone else where up to 15 people would live at the same residence. He felt like he failed his family working two jobs just to live in a home that was not his. He would not be able to spend much time with his family and hoped to support them and find a home here where he could spend quality time with his family. In the Hispanic culture the greatest man is who provides for his family, so I could understand this man wanting to be able to give to his family. Another story was of a young couple who were smuggled across the border. Their story was that they and 9 others were packed into the back of a pickup truck by a coyotes who worked at night to increase his chances of avoiding the border patrol. He would speed through the desert short paces in order to find some obstacles big enough to hide his truck. He would stop and go, stop and go according to the couple. He used night vision goggles to look for the border patrol while they were trying to find him, sort of a cat and mouse game. They both spent one thousand each to get across. My girlfriend’s mother would help these immigrants to find jobs. Since she knew most of the underground businesses she could find them work immediately. Recently her mother drove to San Diego to pick up about a dozen Nicaraguans that wanted to be transported to Chicago to meet up with their families. Her mother collected 20,000 dollars to transport them to Chicago. Her piece of the pie was just 20,000, I cannot image what the total cost was for them to get to the United States safe. The farther the country the higher the cost for these immigrants (Cockcroft). All of these immigrants were smuggled across by coyotes.

            I asked them why they paid so much to the coyotes just to get them across. They stated that trying to get across by themselves was too dangerous. It would be safer for them to pay more for a coyote and to have a host to pick them up and provide shelter for a short period. Most of the immigrants that would stay would be there for at least a month. It was amazing how fast they could find work without legal documentation.

Some illegal immigrants never make it past the border or die just beyond the fences due to coyote abandonment. In Yuma 14 illegals died because a coyote left them in the middle of the desert with no transportation out of the heated environment. US officials have stepped up the security to keep these illegals out and to help those in need.      The going price in the late eighties was about 200 to 300 dollars a person. The Reagan and Bush Administration were working on the problem of immigration into the country. With new efforts by the government to stop or slow the pace the price jumped to anywhere from a thousand to two thousand depending on the quality of the coyote. If the instructions were to simply get across the border the price was usually a thousand. If you wanted a host in America for a short period that usually ranged up to two thousand dollars. Since the Reagan/Bush and now post 9/11 events the price has skyrocketed and has created on of the biggest businesses along the borders.

According to the Tucson border patrol sector the rise in prosecutions for coyotes has not kept pace with the amount of illegals apprehended trying to enter the country. The INS reports that they completed over 2000 smuggling cases in the year 2000. 61 percent of these cases ended in conviction of coyotes with an average of 10 months in prison( Arizona Daily Star).

The new workforce would economically increase revenue for most businesses that could take advantage of the new workers. Companies could pay lower wages to immigrants and fill unwanted positions that Americans would not perform. Most of these jobs were related to cooking and cleaning (Disposable Domestics). Companies could get quality work for cheap labor that any right minded American would figure out that for the money the job required too much and would abandon the position. These types of jobs would be rarely filled and would require companies to always be hiring for these positions.

            A major food distributor came under fire when accused of contracting with coyotes to smuggle immigrants across so they could work for cheap labor. The food distributor was in the chicken business (           ).

            After viewing certain films in my Migration and Culture class it has shown me that the majority of Americans are concerned about immigration and their new neighbors. Most of them did not want immigrants to come to this country. They would show characteristics of discrimination towards these people. It is hard for me to blame anyone to strive for a better life. This is where I am split in my beliefs. I don’t want overcrowding or do not want to pay more in costs due to immigration. But I also feel that these people help the economy just as much as a doctor. Who would be there to serve the assisting in the jobs that are not occupied? I believe the little things help just as much as the big.

            I hoped I could show the viewers who read this that immigrants are people just like us, fighting everyday to make their life better. That coyotes are capitalizing on these people and most of them would not arrive here safely without them. Who should the people of America have sour feelings towards, fellow humans trying to find a better life for their children or coyotes who are taking advantage of laws and innocent people?

            Maybe heavier laws and fines for coyotes would slow the immigration flow into the United States. The immigrants have nothing to lose if they get caught. They will not stop coming into the country as long as there is a job that no one else wants to occupy.

Maybe we should look at these businesses that welcome the illegal work force. Immigrants will not stop flowing into the United States, the business is too big, and the money is too large. There is too much help available for the immigrants to get from there to here. Coyotes are available for the right price on both sides of the borders.


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