Friday, October 28, 2016

‘The Wall Is a Fantasy’

A week in the borderlands with migrants and guards.

By Declan Walsh, New York Times
October 14, 2016

NOGALES, Mexico — A few hundred feet from the American border, José Manuel Talavera contemplated his challenge with the focus, if not quite the physique, of an Olympic high jumper. A stocky coffee farmer from Honduras, he was fresh off La Bestia, or the Beast — the freight train network used by migrants to cross Mexico. Now he was preparing to vault into the United States, for the third time.

His options, both of which involved days of trekking through searing deserts, were unappealing: pay thousands of dollars to a guide, or carry a rucksack filled with drugs for a cartel.

Mr. Talavera shrugged. He did not see himself as a factor in America’s presidential election, even though he had a vague idea about Donald J. Trump and his threats to build a “beautiful, impenetrable wall.” It seemed silly: Was the border not already walled? He knew how hard it was to cross. The first time, a Mexican drug cartel kidnapped him and took all his money. On the second attempt he made it to America only to be captured, detained for two months and put on a plane back to Honduras. It was his first flight. “One month to get there, four hours to go back,” Mr. Talavera recalled with a smile. “At least the ticket was free.”[...]

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