Dollar Dreams - the route via South America

Stumbling upon the oft used illegal route to get an entry to the US of A!

Sport: Others

Posted by: Tautik & Rohini

There is this Indian boy from Punjab (from Fagwara near Ludhiana) staying at the same hostel in Cuenca for over 3 weeks now. He is a typical Punjabi, whose Hindi accent is difficult to understand and who drinks milky-sugary-tea with noisy slurp, chomps food equally noisily and burps loudly after meals.

We had a doubt from the beginning that he was here for a purpose! He is such an unlikely traveller and more so because he just hangs in the hammock all day long talking on the phone, listening to Punjabi music or watching Hindi films. Spanish is far cry, I am not sure how much English can he speak. He is more comfortable speaking to a man than a woman!

Today, finally our curiosity was killed and he came out with the true reason of his visit. He is here to cross over to the USA illegally!!

I wish I could narrate the story with the matter-of-fact tone and ease with which he did!

He is here negotiating money(max he is ready to pay is $15,000) with the "donker" who will give him a safe passage to the USA. Of course there is no guarantee. The money will be paid in 3 instalments, one down payment, once at Panama border and once after reaching the land of gold. Each time he will be allowed to call home to transfer through Western Union. If the deal goes through, he will travel without a visa through Colombia and Panama by road. This he considers the most dangerous part of the journey. "Uske baad to ji unke sab setting hai". At the Panama border "15 din jail me rakhenge, fir jane denge" Then he will be transported to Guatemala by boat. From there starts a long journey by foot to reach Mexico through the jungles. He will carry a bag full of bread for the road. Then cross Mexico to reach the US border, where he would want to be caught by the police and kept in the jail/refugee camp for 2-3 months or more, so that he is in the records. After 3 hearings they will let him go or he expects his Mamas to get him a bail(all of whom has reached to pursue their dollar dreams through the same route) and he will be good to earn. "aur 4-5 sal mein regular ho jayenge".

Throughout the journey he will not carry a phone and most importantly his passport. The passport will be couriered to the place where he will need it next.

ALL of these are speculations! The danger and uncertainty is at every step and all for being an illegal immigrant in a country which has ONLY money to offer!

- Rohini Datta
May 2015

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