Particular report: ‘Determined’ migrants threat life and limb climbing into small boats for journey to U.S.


SAN DIEGO (Border Report) – In May, three people died and more than two dozen more were hospitalized when the 40-food cabin cruiser they were in ran aground off the coast of San Diego.

Everyone was forced into the water when the ship hit some rocks after losing its engine.

This deadly episode highlights the dangers migrants face when they board small boats hoping to land somewhere north of the border.

“Unfortunately, this means that migrants have become much more frustrated and desperate and are crossing them in a variety of ways, including the ocean,” said Pedro Rios, a migrant advocate for the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego.

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Rios said migrants remain few options as most do not have access to the asylum procedure in the US.

“We can reduce the increase in sea crossings to one point, I believe, and that is the application of Title 42. It was the CDC order that Trump issued to allow border police to remove migrants and not allow them to present themselves in the city. “Immigration court,” said Rios. “Title 42 was developed with the idea of ​​removing black and brown migrants; It was introduced using the pandemic as a pretext suggesting migrants are bringing COVID-19 disease into the US, and this was and will continue to be a pretext to block migration. “

Pedro Rios is the director of the American Friends Service Committee based in San Diego. (Elliot Macias / KSWB)

Rios is convinced that the implementation and constant enforcement of Title 42 is the reason why more and more migrants are making dangerous journeys through the mountains, deserts and especially on the water to the USA.

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“If the Biden government were to re-commit to protecting asylum seekers, many of these people would present themselves at the border and would not feel the need to find dangerous ways to cross the US,” he said.

It has been widely reported that most migrants are fleeing persecution, the lack of opportunities and education for their children, ongoing violence and natural disasters that have destroyed crops and entire cities.

“All of these factors contribute to the fact that many people feel that they have no choice but to emigrate, and then the US becomes a place to seek refuge,” said Rios.

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According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, most migrants traveling north of the border begin their migration south of Tijuana. According to border reports, migrants pay between $ 12,000 and $ 20,000 for a boat trip along the coast and have to raise half the money before being allowed on board. In the US, the families have to raise the rest of the money or the migrants have to work off their debts to the smugglers.

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“It’s a very dangerous journey. Often you have a lot of people squeezing into so-called panga boats or climbing into slightly larger boats. Sometimes not only people but also smuggled goods are mixed up. People are being misinformed about what it means to get on the boat and enter the US and the dangers involved. One of them is that they could die; We have seen that over and over again. “

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Rios believes that most crossings, and sometimes their tragic consequences, are very avoidable.

“The deaths in the water, the deaths in the desert are all avoidable if not only the US, but also the Mexican government and other governments, commit to protecting the lives of those forced to migrate until we see us unfortunately carry on. “To see these tragic incidents happen, in which people die and families are destroyed,” he said.