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Minority Report

Tales of Crossing the Border
Author: Juan Gallegos, Christian Placencia, Gabriel Navarro

It’s common for immigrants to view America as the land 
of opportunity where hard work earns you a better 
life.  Each new person that crossed the border has 
their own story: in fact, Santa Cruz County has more 
than 58,000 of them.  While most fairytales have nice 
endings, not all immigrants live happily ever after.  
Many think life will be easy when they come to 
American, but often, it’s much harden than they 
Douglas Keegan of the Santa Cruz County Immigration 
Project said that most stories about immigrants start 
out the same, people looking for opportunity.
“People come here to work, not to get welfare,” he 
said.  “People come for a better life for themselves 
and their families.  Many want to be reunited and live 
together, not because they’re unhappy with where 
they’re from.”
Sometimes people’s situations get so bad in their own 
country that they leave and risk everything for a 
better life.  This was the case for both Vanessa and 
Lourdes, two migrant women now living in a Watsonville 
homeless shelter.
Lourdes had one simple wish, to come to the US.  She 
believed that she would be able to get anything she 
wanted.  Lourdes purchased a fake mica, a.k.a. 
greencard, that cost her $500 and another $250 for her 
“El miedo más grande que tenía por mi hijo, era cruzar 
en diferente tiempo,” said Vanessa. “Pensé que nunca 
iba a verlo otra vez.”
When Lourdes finally arrived in the US she was 
reunited with her child, but found a different country 
than she imagined.
Vanessa was also thinking of her child when she came 
over, a child she was still pregnant with.  Vanessa’s 
migration to the US began with an airplane ride to 
Tijuana.  When arriving in Tijuana, she had to find a 
way to sneak across.
“If you come here without permission you face a lot of 
dangers including death,” said Keegan, who said that 
many die from car accidents in the attempt to cross, 
while others just can’t survive the harsh conditions.
“Since 9/11 they’ve made crossing the border much 
harder.  This forces people to go to more remote areas 
like deserts and mountains where it is more 
dangerous,” said Keegan.
“A mí me regió un coyote,” said Vanessa.  Coyotes 
(illegal immigration transporters) provide a very 
popular method to cross the border.
Often it takes several attempts to make it across.  
According to Keegan, “25 to 50 percent of the people 
get caught or stopped the first time.  Often they get 
sent back and try to enter through a different 
location, then they succeed.”
It took Vanessa three attempts to cross the border 
before she finally got through.  
Vanessa said “Caminé desde las 3 de la mañana, hasta 
las 7 la próxima noche.  En cuanto el coyote me cruzó 
sobre la loma, me escondí en un camion, abajo de un 
montón de paja—sin poderme mover, ni hablar y sin 
comer por horas.”
Vanessa found herself pregnant and alone in a country 
where she didn’t speak the language.  Vanessa had to 
work in the fields pregnant, under the hot sun, and 
receive pay below minimum wage.  Now Vanessa lives in 
a women’s homeless shelter with her 2-year-old 
daughter.  She still has a hard time finding a job 
because she has no papers.
Lourdes said, “mucha gente piensa que va a ser fácil 
agarrar dinero en es Estados Unidos, pero la verdad el 
trabajo es duro y paga poquito.”
It was hard for Lourdes to find work, but she 
eventually found a job in the strawberry fields.  She 
was paid below minimum wage.
Despite hardships, Lourdes said that she would never 
move back to México, “Es defícil vivir en los Estados 
Unidos, pero es major que en México.”