The cost of human smuggling

“Please hear these words: Do not pay the smugglers. Do not pay the coyotes. Do not put yourself in danger. Do not put your children in danger,” President Trump said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24.

The president’s message speaks to the danger of human smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border — an act that ultimately endangers vulnerable women and children.

Families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border greatly outnumber adults and unaccompanied children making the crossing alone. In the past year, the majority of families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, accounting for over 98 percent of family-unit border apprehensions.

This shift means that women — who are embarking on the perilous border crossing with their children — are often left at the mercy of their smugglers.

At the end of October, Border Patrol agents found a Honduran family of four abandoned by a smuggler in the middle of the brush near Eagle Pass, Texas. The family was shivering and cold, deserted during a downpour.

“This is a prime example of just how little regard smugglers have for the lives of those they are smuggling,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz in a press statement.

Human smuggling can also lead to human trafficking. According to the Department of Homeland Security, human traffickers look for economically, physically and emotionally vulnerable populations — such as migrants — to “use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.”