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국경을 불법으로 넘다가 매년 수백명 사망

2007.05.28
* Border crossing poses danger to children * 16 May 2007 Hundreds of people die each year trying to illegally cross from Mexico into the United States. Many of them are women and children who run out of water in the middle of the desert. An hour-and-a-half south of the border lies Altar, Mexico – a farming town of 7,000 people. It's where most migrants find a smuggler, known as a coyote, to help them navigate the desert. A never-ending stream of buses into Altar drops migrants at the town square. They sit and wait to be approached by a coyote. On the far side of the square, a line of vans waits to ferry migrants to the border, where they will begin their dangerous three-day journey. This 18-year-old who we'll call Enrique is paying a coyote $2,500 U.S., which a relative in the United States is lending him. Like many migrants, Enrique has grown tired of living on less than $3 a day, and is willing to face the dangers lurking in the desert. "Yes, I am afraid because I have been told that many people die in the desert," he says. "But to try to be in the U.S., I will do my very best to get there." With increased security on the border, migrants are now trying to cross in more remote areas of the desert, sometimes with only two gallons of water – not nearly enough. Hundreds of thousands are caught by the authorities every year. Most of the adults are simply dropped off back on the Mexican side of the border. The children are sent to repatriation centers, where they wait to be picked up by a relative. UNICEF partner Colegio de la Frontera Norte works with the Mexican government to ensure that the children are safe, and given access to health and legal services. They also discourage the children from attempting another crossing. "There are important dangers that children need to know about," says Humerto Valdez, the director of strategic studies for DIF Sonora. "It is possible for them to become the victims of thieves, rapists, sex traffickers. And in some cases, people who want to sell their organs." The night before Enrique left Altar with a coyote, a journalist passed along his cell phone number, with instructions to call him. Several days later the phone rang. Enrique was on a pay phone at a gas station in a large U.S. city. He said they travelled three days across the desert, and they were robbed along the way. But they made it out alive. They were among the fortunate ones.
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