I Smuggle Illegal Immigrants Into United States (I Am a Coyote)

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Myself, and about a dozen young men and women
from Guatemala, are sitting in the half-light of dusk, inside an old barn-turned-safe house
somewhere in the northern part of Chihuahua, Mexico. We’ve just finished a small dinner of rice
and beans as we sorted through documents and reviewed plans for each of their new lives. We’ve had the same dinner three times in
a row, in fact it’s the same thing we’ve eaten for every meal over the past three days. Now we have nothing left to face but a long
journey through the night. Everyone is quiet and anxious, except for
me… this is the second time I am going to cross the Rio Grande this week, and probably
close to the hundredth time this year. It’s not a big crowd, and luckily on this
trip there’s no small children to worry about… but still, I can’t let my guard
down. What if this is the crossing that goes wrong? What if I let down all of these people who
have put their trust, their faith, and the few dollars they have in my care. Because I am what some people call a coyote—a
smuggler bringing migrants north across the Mexico-US border. Some people may scoff at this lifestyle—but
the truth is I am supplying a valuable service, for which there is an extremely high demand. I’ve heard that the business of getting
people across the United States’ southern border is estimated to be a multi-billion-dollar
industry. There are many dangers and challenges associated
with crossing the border, getting someone to their destination in America both successfully
and safely involves a complex understanding of routes and logistics that only those with
proven experience possess. If you set out on your own, with no experience,
and tried to make the same trek that many coyotes do regularly, you’d be dead within
a day, maybe two if you’re lucky. As a coyote, I am just one part of a larger
network of smugglers, document forgers, business owners, and government conspirators who all
work together, each doing our own part to bring migrants across huge distances and without
detection. My specific role of leading groups over the
actual border—while crucial to the whole system and the role it seems the media focuses
on more than any other—is still just one piece of the puzzle. I began work as a coyote just a few years
after I myself first came to the United States. I was living in McAllen, Texas, a border town
near the gulf, and working as a day laborer to send money back home to my family in the
Mexican state of Oaxaca. I had made trips home and back to Texas a
few times at this point, when I was made an offer by the very smuggler I had first paid
to bring me into the United States. I had worked many times with this coyote’s
brother since living in Texas, and he recommended me as someone capable and eager to take on
this hard work. The migrant smuggling business was booming
and they needed more guides. I greatly appreciated this offer, as he knew
I had been dreaming of a way to make more money, as I was barely making enough to survive
on the wages I made as a hired hand, and not nearly as much as I’d need to be able to
support my family back in Mexico. Although I was scared and somewhat skeptical
about the new risks that this job would entail, I could not ignore that this was an incredible
financial opportunity, and likely the only one that might offer me and my family a chance
at a better life. Most people understand that our main service
is to escort undocumented migrants into America. Our most used methods of travel include simply
trekking by foot, utilizing secret underground tunnels, coming by truck, or a combination
of all three. Routes shift regularly, based on the information
we receive about where border control is currently applying the most pressure. Routes that have worked for years are suddenly
no longer an option after border patrol figures out that they’re regularly used, and coyotes
are often forced to go far off the beaten path into the desert to avoid detection, significantly
increasing the danger. During my first year in this industry, I simply
helped other coyotes work their routes within Mexico—our network connects routes through
Central America, and there are others that go even further south. But I worked hard and now I am personally
guiding my own groups from this safe house and directly over the border into the US. Depending on the point of origin, the cost
for our services can vary from a couple thousand, for those covering less distance from Mexico,
or to well over $10,000, for those much further south. For many, this is their entire life savings,
or even that of their entire family who all pooled everything they had to give their son,
or daughter, or nephew a chance. On average, I take groups ranging in size
from a large family to a couple dozen… Too many, and it is difficult to manage, but
too few is not a good profit. And it isn’t just Latin Americans I take. Some people come from even further… Migrants as far away as Africa and Asia make
their way to the US via our routes, because it is easier for them to find a way to fly
into South America than it is to enter North America from their home land. Everyone risks their lives to make these long
and expensive journeys for different reasons, but most of the ones I talk to are trying
to escape poverty, violence, persecution, war-torn communities, or even natural disasters. Transportation is not our only service, though. We also provide documents—stolen passports,
fake IDs, stolen Social Security numbers, and other fraudulent documents that can help
them greatly once they’re finally in America. Sometimes, if the picture on a stolen ID matches
our client well enough, they can even be smuggled through official border crossings, but this
is rare and though it’s by far the easiest path into America, it carries its own risk
when you walk into a building full of border agents. We can also connect migrants with business
owners in the States that are looking for employees, willing to look the other way,
and eager for more affordable labor. We even bribe government workers, on both
sides of the border. But the most crucial task we must absolutely
do, is pay off the drug cartels. They are the ones truly in control of the
border; and not paying them would result in death. Personally, I treat my clients with the utmost
respect, taking even more special care with the elderly, the young, and the female migrants. They are the most vulnerable to assault and
abuse along the route. For me to allow women and children harm would
not only tarnish my business reputation as a reputable coyote, but it would create situations
that could jeopardize my control and safe management of each group I transport. Still, negligent and abusive coyotes do exist—after
all, the people making this journey are desperate. Hostage situations, extortion, and abuse of
all kinds are just some of the many risks people take on when immigrating and when working
with coyotes. Sadly many don’t realize this until they
are already in a bad situation, but can’t turn back and are forced to continue the harsh
journey. Some coyotes are just con artists—having
migrants pay them thousands up front early in the journey, only to never even make it
across Mexico. Generally, migrants pay us in stages along
the way. Mostly, I spend time telling the groups I
lead how imperative it is that they remain silent—extremely silent—and to be prepared
to stay still and wait for up to several hours, in uncomfortable outdoor conditions. When you’ve just spent weeks being cold,
tired, hungry, or scared, it can be difficult to keep yourself under control like this. The truth of the matter though, is If we get
caught, there are, in reality, not that many negative consequences. Clients are instructed to never, ever reveal
who their coyote was. It would do them no benefit to identify us
anyway; it is not like they would be granted citizenship just for cooperating, and it’s
always the same result, they are detained or deported. However, if I was caught… Well, I can simply pose as a regular migrant,
just another one of the group who paid some other coyote to bring me across the border,
and “no, I don’t know what they look like or even what their name is.” It is extremely unlikely that I would be charged
with a serious crime, and I would likely just be deported. This is what makes migrant smuggling so much
more appealing than trafficking drugs or weapons—though many of the people and organizations moving
migrants are involved in these markets as well. Still, it is a lucrative business but I must
remember that the truth is, those I work with are criminals. I have to remind myself to be alert and ready
to defend myself as, in a way, I am putting myself at risk by association. And of course, one never knows what kind of
people my clients are… there’s a chance that they, too, are criminals or violent. At the very least, I know that they are desperate
and that for this brief period, my being alive is the only thing that will help them make
it. And after all, I too, am desperate. As my group makes their way in the dark—perfectly
silent, just as instructed—I still feel a rush of adrenaline just like I did the very
first time I crossed the border. Maybe this is because the routes change every
time, it always feels different, or maybe the nerves just never fully go away… The weight of the night gets to you on these
silent walks. Even though it is not likely… I have always feared that right before we
cross, someone—perhaps people from the cartel who have a debt to collect, or even law enforcement
officers—would emerge from this darkness and surprise us all with an attack, ending
my life. Would my family ever find out what happened
to me? The money that this job has given me is what
I always dreamed of… And now my family even resides with me in
Texas. But at this point, I probably have enough
financial security to quit, and to continue on with my life in America by doing more honest
work. After being poor for most of my life, I am
only just now starting to accept that maybe I don’t need to take these risky trips so
often… Now I also worry that the consequences of
my actions will become more severe in today’s shifting political climate. Once we make it across the river—this time
we floated on a set of old tires lashed together like a raft, much more awkward then some of
the inflatable boats we use—I can suddenly feel the excitement among the other travelers. I can sense it even in the dark quiet. The journey is not over, but for these people
who have come so far, the anticipation and hope is overflowing. From here, we will trek to a meeting-place
where an American trucker will drive us to a safe house at a Texas cattle ranch. I look around at their faces shining in the
moonlight. The grueling walks, the lack of sleep, the
meager amounts of food, I can read in their smiling eyes that it has all been worth it
for them. All the thoughts I had about quitting this
week have vanished from my mind, the mood is too hopeful now.

100 comments

  1. I’m physically cringing at all the comments wishing death upon these people. Your views and bias has been shaped by your upbringing. These immigrants are doing what they can to seek a better life and your response is wishing them dead? It’s much easier to scoff and be ignorant, but it feels better to be sympathetic and understanding.

  2. The thumbnail ruined the thing for me. That thumbnail showed a German soldier. Has nothing to do with US border etc…

  3. "We've eaten the same meal for the past three days."

    Don't worry, you'll get a lot of "free" shit at the expense of American taxpayers while contributing little to nothing in return, except more crime.

  4. I wonder what ever happens to the people being smuggled. I wonder if they are able to feel peaceful from the everyday thought of "what if I ever get caught"

  5. Like how this "I am" treats female rape and sex trafficking via coyotes as the minority and not the norm.

    Can't wait for the "I am WWII German camp guard". rofl.

  6. The cure to end illegal immigration would be laying landmines across the border, electrified walls, and shooting illegals if they cross over.

  7. I only subscribe to channels that I genuinely like and even then only after I have seen enough of their content to know that the entire channel is quality. I subscribed to this channel after the second video… This is truly one of the most original concepts I've seen in a matter of years on YouTube and "I Am" very excited to see it excel!

  8. To be fair to the channel, this is said from the point of view of the Illegal Alien Smuggler, not from their own.

    Which means that the way they say it will be biased and will be in a particular way, which makes logical sense since again they're saying it about themselves.

  9. imagine how fun it'd be to just put a fake mustache on them and give them a fake cardboard passport.. gaurds: hmmmmmmmm?

  10. Why they are illegal and deserve to be facing imprisonment for crossing the border illegally if they want a safer life they should do it leagally

  11. Make no mistake fellow American citizens. This is an invasion of our homeland. If the government does nothing about it – the people will, and the consequences of that are going to be bloody.

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