A woman was found curled up in a suitcase in the back of a Honda SUV. The Thai woman was attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico during the holidays. She did not take the ordinary route for illegal immigrants crossing the border. Smuggled women and children usually pay border crossers a fee, and the number of cases has skyrocketed.
A U.S. border protection official confirms the 48-year-old woman was hidden under a pile of clothes. The soft-sided luggage was located inside the sport-utility vehicle crossing into Nogales, Arizona. Edith Serrano is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman:
“Rarely do we see something like this. You can imagine the (border) officers’ surprise when they came upon this woman crammed inside a suitcase, but there she was.”
48-year-old Pornkamol Mongkolsermsak faces charges of re-entry after deportation, according to Customs and Border Protection spokesman Victor Brabble. Officials have not released the name of the 56-year-old Phoenix man driver. The incident happened on December 30. Authorities reported the inspection earlier this week. Mongkolsermsak and the driver are in the hands of customs enforcement.
Mexico-U.S. officials are aware that women and children cross the border to maintain the family unit. A National ICE Council member says enforcement cannot keep up with the number of migrant children illegally crossing over the border. Research shows nearly 25,000 children were placed into care of a federal agency in 2013. That is twice the number of smuggled children in 2012. Stretching back through recent years, cases have quadrupled in size.
The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for getting the children into care centers. Many of the minors are taken to the Office of Refugee Settlement. The unit is apart of the Department of Health of Human Services. Fox News reports the children are supposed to go through immigration proceedings. Texas Judge Andrew Hanen does not believe this customs procedure is taking place, especially after children have been released into parent custody.
The University of Arizona’s Center for Latin American Studies conducted a report involving 1,100 deported persons. The study is comprised of surveys since 2010. The surveys transpires the harsh conditions of smuggling people:
Mexico-U.S. customs officials have blocked common paths, forcing people to enter the border via drug routes. Women endure great risk when entering drug smuggler territory:
- Twelve percent of deportees said they witnessed violence against women.
- More than 50 percent of the deportees questioned stated they have at minimum one family member who is a legal U.S. citizen. Additionally, one in four of the deportees has a minor child who is also a legal U.S. citizen.
- 61 percent of deportees said they would aim to cross the border illegally again. The individuals listed they attempt continuously because they consider their residence, their homes within the United States. The deportees reported an average seven years they previously lived in the United States.
- About three-fourths of the crossers surveyed paid a “coyote” an average of $2,500 to enter the United States
Migrants usually enter the states by paying “coyotes” for transportation. Altar, Mexico heralds illegal border crossers, also known as coyotes. These vans filled with two benches carries 20 to 30 people during a one-way trip. ABC News reports the leader of a shelter for migrants in Altar says the cost is $230 per person, while a coyote quotes an $8 price per migrant.
Lead author of the University of Arizona report, Jeremy Slack, requests more option for families. He wants the legal system to kick in to keep the family unit together. Mexico-U.S. border patrol officials continue to see an uptrend in smuggled people cases. This skyrocket in cases signal women and children are less likely to turn back.
By Teria Seah