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Colorado nonprofit describes dangers of travelling for undocumented immigrants

Nonprofit describes dangers of travelling for undocumented immigrants
Nonprofit describes dangers of travelling for undocumented immigrants 03:08

As the number of dead made the discovery of an abandoned tractor trailer packed with migrants the worst such tragedy in U.S. history, discussion again rose about the dangers of smuggling and life in the shadows of illegal immigration.

"You're not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there," said San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood.

The truck, with no air conditioning or water, was found near Interstate 35, leading to Minnesota, however there's nothing known about the truck's destination.


"We do everything off because of families," explained Nelly Garcia, Executive Director of Child and Migrant Services Inc., a nonprofit based in Palisade.

"We work hard because of families, and that if means leaving the place where we grew up, we're going to have to do," she explained about the willingness among migrants to take risks. "It is not easy for an immigrant to decide to leave home because they're looking for a better life."

Many times she says coyotes put people in large trucks in border areas because it is cheaper. As people move north of the borders, they often split up into smaller vehicles.

"They're going to rely on those who are able to transport them to other states, and we know that Colorado is one of those states that they come across very much."


In the past, police have found undocumented immigrants in vehicles in Colorado, but large trucks are not known to be used to transport people here. Garcia notes the main corridor is Interstate 70.

"Sometimes even the coyotes have their own connections within the state. Sometimes they do have those people who are the drivers and take them take them to other states. So it's always that network."

Most migrant laborers enter the country under H2a visas which allow immigrants to stay in the U.S. for up to three years before they have to return to their native country for a period of at least three months. Many employers arrange their transportation. For people in the country illegally, staying hidden is key and it puts them in greater danger.

"They want to make sure that they're not attracting anybody's attention, especially the police department, to make sure that they get to their destination," said Garcia.

Even when they are in danger, they are reluctant to call for help in fear of being deported to places where they were in more constant danger.

"Maybe safer than staying where they live, where they can be killed, where they can be raped, where they can be kidnapped because that's really the circumstances, from where they coming from."

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