The latest border hopefuls are probably from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, three of the most violent countries in Latin America. Now they’re in a little Sonoran town called Altar, sixty miles from America.

According to the Pew Research Center immigration from Mexico was zero in 2010. Since then more Mexicans have left the United States and by 2014 the illegal Mexican population had decreased. Just don’t bother giving these facts to the people arriving in Altar who now plan to cross the border into the U.S.

DS_0015This is what the ground looks like above Altar. The Arizona desert is rough and generally  too hot or too cold. Either in Mexico or the U.S. travelers may be robbed and the women stand an eighty percent chance of being raped. Contraceptives are sold at local pharmacies in Altar to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Altar, Sonora is a popular staging place for immigrants wanting to cross into Arizona. The northbound travelers are a major factor in the economy of the little community. Merchants cater to their needs by selling camo outfits, soft sandals to blur footprints, canteens for water, neck scarves, hats, and boots to equip the hikers heading north across a dangerous desert. For some the local Catholic Church will provide temporary food and shelter.

Tension fills the streets. Altar can be a hotbed of violence. Two Sinaloa cartels, the Los Salazar and Los Memos clash for control over the little city of under eight thousand people. Men in dark glasses sit in cars and watch. Are they police or cartel? Could be either or both. A Catholic Priest sometimes walks the thoroughfares offering any help within his power to the newcomers.

Coyotes walk Altar’s streets at night looking for customers. Bodies are money and support their business. The smugglers work for the cartels or pay a kickback so they may continue their clandestine work. Three thousand five hundred dollars is the usual price to be driven to Phoenix without any guarantee of success. The money usually comes from families and friends north and south.

It’s a sad business where the paying customer is never right.

My name is Wally Runnels and I write Border Pulp.



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