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Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Mexicans swim for U.S. border
I am sitting on the banks of the Rio Grande in Reynosa, Mexico, with my CNN crew. I am also sitting next to six Mexican citizens who are getting ready to try to swim across the river and into the United States.

We are in a heavily wooded area that's full of clothes disposed of by people getting read to hop into the Rio Grande. The Mexicans we are with seem desperate, and they are scared to see us. They think we are police. I tell them we are journalists. I'm not sure they believe me.

One of our cameramen speaks fluent Spanish and tries to reassure them, but they remain nervous. They say they are waiting for a so-called "coyote," or human smuggler, to take them over. The coyotes get hundreds of dollars and sometimes more to do that job.

The U.S. government says apprehensions of illegal immigrants are down about a third from last year due to increased border patrol presence and the addition of the National Guard along the border.

That claim appears to have credence on the streets of Reynosa. Many people we interviewed here, including those who have spent much illegal time in the United States, say they are now more wary of trying to go back.

Anyway, back to our six guys on the banks of the river. As they sit next to their small rubber boat, we see three other men in the distance, also hiding in the woods. We go to talk to them.

It appears they are the coyotes. They tell us to get out of there with our cameras. Their threat of ramifications is implicit, but their threatening tone is explicit.

We leave and go to another part of the river. It's there we see a man paddling furiously in the Rio Grande. He sees us and turns back. His name is Enrique.

He claims he was just out for a swim. But he is wearing all his clothes and says he has swum to Texas many times before, earning some jail time on a previous visit. We're not sure why he swam back, but we don't think that he too was so pleased to be on camera.

It's another sad and pitiful day on the border.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 2:48 PM ET
  11 Comments
This is exactly why we need more border patrol and to build a fence. If they can cross over the Rio Grande so easily then it is our fault for allowing it! And if they cross over so easily then any terrorist group could too and there is no telling what they would bring with them!
Posted By Cynthia, Covington, Ga. : 3:11 PM ET
Hi Gary,
Swimming across the Rio Grande, hence the name "Wetback". What can we do for these people who desperately want to come to our country? Shouldn't we figure out a better plan to make these people citizens and productive members of our community and safely escort them across the border? After all, they are coming anyway.
This land of the free is a giant melting pot. We are all immigrants or revolutionaries.
"Some day soon this rhyming volume,if you learn with proper speed;
Little Louis Sanchez, will be given you to read.
While you thought of nothing, and were still too young to play,
Foreign people thought of you in places far away.
Now that you have spelt your lesson, lay it down and go and play,
Seeking shells and seaweed on the sands of Monterey,
Watching all the mighty whalebones, lying buried by the breeze,
Tiny sand~pipers, and the huge Pacific seas.
And remember in your playing, as the sea~fog rolls to you,
Long ere you could read it, how I told you what to do;
And that while you thought of no one, nearly half the world away,
Some one thought of Little Louis Sanchez on the beach of Monterey!"
Robert Louis Stevenson
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches, TX : 3:18 PM ET
After reading that, all I can think is "shame on the Mexican goverment for failing so many of its citizens". I wonder why no one is marching for reform in Mexico?
Posted By Burt, Manhattan : 3:24 PM ET
I am a NATURAL born AMERICAN! I feel that these people should earn their way into our country, not just demand that we make it easier on them. Because of the overwhelming numbers of illegals making their way across the borders we as in americans who do have the right to be here, we have a hard time with work (JOBS) because the illegals are pretty much doing jobs now for little to nothing. as for we having to learn spanish that will never happen as far as I can remember the language we speak is ENGLISH. they seem to have a problem with having to lear american history, learn to speak english pay taxes, oh let's not forget now adays if you are not mexican you have a real hard time with getting any help from OUR goverment with medical etc... I think the true americans should march for our rights and for our country. no matter what your race right is right.
Posted By Donna cleveland : 3:35 PM ET
For this to stop happening, penalties for those employers hiring illegally should be increased. American businesses are to blame for this, it is completely unfair to all other businesses that obey laws. Those people are the real criminals. It's a clear cut example of how white collar crime has less penalties and often goes overlooked.

Building a fence is ridiculous, it is comparable to East Germany and the current wall going up in Israel. It promotes nothing but hate. That kind of action would surely sprout the same kind of hate that promotes terrorist groups.
Posted By John (college station) : 3:36 PM ET
what is so bad in Mexico that these people will go to such lengths to come to America, don't the protestors get it? When you have to swim into the country across a river it must be the "illegal" way. That makes it wrong! Do it like the rest of us "legal immigrants" and call the INS. Do the ones that make it over the border, illegally, suddenly feel relieved and entitiled to live here? I'm all for increased border patrol and sending those caught back where they belong. Until they learn to do it right, the way the rest of us have to.
Posted By Sue, Onalaska WI, Canadian : 3:39 PM ET
Hi Gary,
People want a better life. They always have and they always will. This is nothing new at all. As a Californian, I live with this reality every, single day. Good people are here illegally and legally and they live in my community. NOW, how to we get immigration reform that everyone can live with! Washington are you listening, because right now it's just cotton candy logic...a lot of hot air, spinning up a blob of no substance. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif : 3:40 PM ET
I would not say " It's another sad and pitiful day on the border " I would say " It's another day of expected, extended visits from Mexican Nationals " Your story is an old and long one most of us are tired of hearing.
How about doing an undercover story on the "coyotes"? The hows, whys and feelings( if any )about being a "coyote". Are they afraid of going to jail? Do they care if the people they are smuggling die? Just what do they care about other then the money.
Let's hear from one of those low- lifes'. Let's hear their insane justifications. Better yet let's throw all the coyotes into the back of a truck, drive them around like packed sardines with no water or bath room facilities and get their opinion a second time.
Posted By jmy, lakewood, colorado : 3:44 PM ET
I agree with jmy from Colorado. Or a piece about what the Mexican govt is doing to take care of these people. Or how the Mexican government treats those who want to enter its country from its south border. I notice again that many of these people in the streets today are carrying Mexican flags. They should go to Mexico and protest. We cant pay for all the worlds problems.
Posted By Bill, Oklahoma City : 4:01 PM ET
Robbing a bank, hence the name "Bank Robber". What can we do for these people who desperately want to come to the bank? Shouldn't we figure out a better plan to make these people prosperous members of our community, and safely escort them into the bank vault? After all, they are going to rob the bank anyway.

Sorry, Betty Ann, and others who feel similarly - just because someone really, really wants to commit a crime, and steal something, doesn't mean that we should just let them. And they can be stopped - never 100%, but I'm sure we could cut down the number who get in by a ton, and ensure the jobs are scarce for them once here. That'd do it.
Posted By Lisa H, Bothell, WA : 4:37 PM ET
I agree that the Mexican Government needs to get involved. They should be working on ways to better the living situation for their own people. It is a disgrace that people must risk their lives to try and escape to a better life. Thanks for the story.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:28 PM ET
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