In 1994, the Government of Mexico produced this 32-page comicbook-style "How To" guide containing information to aid Mexican citizens seeking to cross the border illegally into the United States. Though little has been said in the national media, questions have been raised regarding the Mexican government's intentions with respect to producing the book.
Below is the text of the book, along with illustrations. The translation is courtesy of INFOMUNDO.US.
INTRODUCTION, PAGES 0 - 1
Dear fellow citizen:
This guide tries to provide you with some practical advice that may be useful to you in case you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside of your own country.
The safe way of entering another country is by first obtaining your passport, which is issued by the Delegations of the Secretariat of Foreign Relations, and your visa, which you request at the Embassy or Consulate of the country to where you wish to travel.
However, we actually see many cases of Mexicans who try to cross the northern border without the necessary documentation, crossing high-risk zones that are very dangerous, especially in desert areas or rivers with strong and not always noticeable currents.
INTRODUCTION, PAGES 2 - 3
As you read this guide you can also learn some basic questions about legal consequences of your stay in the United States of America without appropriate immigration documents, as well as the rights you have in that country once you are there, independently of your immigration status.
Always keep in mind that there are mechanisms for you to enter the United States of America legally.
In any case, if you encounter problems or difficulties, remember that Mexico has 45 Consulates at its disposal in that country, whose contact information you also can find in this publication.
Identify your Consulate and go to it.
RISKS, PAGES 4 - 5
DANGERS OF CROSSING IN HIGH-RISK ZONES
Crossing the river can be very risky, especially if you cross alone and at night.
Thick clothing increases your weight when wet and makes it hard to swim or float.
RISKS, PAGES 6 - 7
If you cross in the desert, try to travel when the heat is not so intense.
Highways and towns are very far apart, so that it could take you several days to find roads and you will not be able to carry food or water for that long; you could even get lost.
Salted water helps you retain body fluids. Although you get more thirsty, if you drink salted water the risk of dehydration is lessened.
Dehydration symptoms are:
- Little or no perspiration
- Dryness of eyes and mouth
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Difficulty in walking and reasoning
- Hallucinations and mirages
If you get lost follow utility poles, railroad tracks or furrows.
BE CAREFUL OF ALIEN SMUGGLERS, PAGES 8 - 9
BE CAREFUL OF "POLLEROS", "COYOTES" OR "PATEROS" [Various names for alien smugglers)
They can deceive you by assuring you they'll cross you [smuggle you across the border] at certain times over mountains or through deserts. This is not true! They can put your life in danger leading you through rivers, irrigation canals, desert areas, along railroad tracks or freeways. This has caused the death of hundreds of people.
If you decide to use the services of "polleros", "coyotes" or "pateros" to cross the border, consider the following precautions to take:
Don't let him out of your sight; remember that he's the only one that knows the terrain and therefore is the one that can get you out.
Do not trust anyone who offers to cross you over to the "other side" and asks you to drive a vehicle or carry a package for him. Regularly those...
BE CAREFUL OF ALIEN SMUGGLERS, PAGES 10 - 11
...packages contain drugs or other prohibited substances. For that reason many people have ended up in jail.
If you transport other people you can be confused with an alien smuggler and be accused of alien smuggling yourself or even vehicle theft.
Don't hand over your minor children to strangers that offer to cross them to the United States.
DO NOT USE FALSE DOCUMENTS, PAGES 12 - 13
DO NOT USE FALSE DOCUMENTS OR DOCUMENTS OF OTHER PEOPLE, NOR DECLARE A FALSE NATIONALITY
If you try to cross with documents that are false or that belong to someone else, keep the following in mind:
The use of documents that are false or that belong to someone else is a Federal crime in the United States, for which you can be criminally prosecuted and end up in jail; the same as if you give a false name or say you are a U.S. citizen when you are not.
Do not lie to U.S. border crossing or inspection booth agents.
IF YOU ARE DETAINED, PAGES 14 - 15
- Do not resist arrest.
- Do not assault or insult the officer.
- Do not throw stones or other objects at the officers nor at the patrol cars, because this is considered a form of provocation.
- If the officers feel they've been assaulted they will probably use force to detain you.
- Raise your hands slowly for them to see you're unarmed.
- Do not carry or hold any objects that could be construed as weapons, such as: lanterns, screwdrivers, blades, knives or stones.
IF YOU ARE DETAINED, PAGE 16 / YOUR RIGHTS, PAGE 17
IF YOU ARE DETAINED
- Don't run or try to escape.
- Don't hide in dangerous places.
- Don't cross freeways.
It's better for you to be detained for a few hours and be repatriated to Mexico than to get lost in the desert.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED, YOU HAVE RIGHTS!
Give your true name.
If you are a minor and are accompanied by an adult, tell the authorities so they do not separate you.
YOUR RIGHTS / YOUR RIGHTS, PAGES 18 - 19
Your rights are:
- To know where you are.
- To request to speak to the nearest Mexican Consulate representative in order to receive help.
- Do not make statements or sign documents, especially if they are in English, without the aid of a defense attorney or Mexican Government Consulate representative.
- To receive medical attention if you are injured or in poor health.
- To receive respectful treatment regardless of your immigration status.
- To be transported safely.
- To have water and food when you need it.
- You are not obligated to disclose your immigration status when you are detained.
YOUR RIGHTS, PAGES 20 - 21
- To not be hit or insulted.
- To not be held incommunicado.
In case they take away your personal effects, request a voucher in order to claim them when you are released.
If there is any violation of these rights, it's important for you to inform your attorney or Mexican Consulate representative that visits you or even the nearest Delegation of the Secretariat of Foreign Relations within Mexico.
If you wish more information and you live in Texas or in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, tune in to "The Powerful Station" at AM 1570.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED / DETAINED, PAGES 22 - 23
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED / DETAINED
If you already were sentenced for some crime or you are facing criminal prosecution an a jail, you have the following rights:
- To not be discriminated against by the police, the courts or prison authorities.
- To receive visits from consular officials and family members.
- To receive appropriate legal counsel without conditions or obstructions.
If you being criminally prosecuted and have not yet been sentenced, ask your attorney or consular representative what the "Plea Agreement" consists of.
Do not plead guilty without first consulting your attorney about the possibilities of winning your case if you go to trial.
It's important they you know the laws of the American state where you live and work, since each state's laws are different. Bear in mind the following information:
If you drink don't drive, since if you do not have papers you can be detained and deported.
If a legal resident is cited more than two times for drunk driving, he can be deported.
Do not drive without a driver's license.
Observe traffic signs and signals and use your seatbelt.
Do not drive without auto insurance nor drive an unknown vehicle.
[THINGS TO] AVOID, PAGES 24 - 25
Do not pick up strangers.
If you commit some traffic violation and are detained by the police, place your hands on the steering wheel and do not get out of the car until the officer requests you to do so.
Avoid calling attention to yourself, at least while you are arranging your residence papers to live in the United States.
The best formula is not to alter your routine of going between work and home. Avoid noisy parties because the neighbors can get upset and call the police, and you could be arrested.
If you go to a bar or night club and a fight starts, leave immediately, since in the confusion you could be arrested even if you did not do anything wrong.
Avoid family or domestic violence. As in Mexico, it is a crime in the United States.
[THINGS TO] AVOID, PAGES 26 - 27
Domestic violence does not consist solely of hitting others but also can be threats, shouting or mistreatment.
If you are accused of domestic violence against your children, your mate or someone else who lives with toy, you could go to jail. In addition, Child Protective Services authorities could take away your children.
Do not carry firearms, bladed weapons or other dangerous objects.
Keep in mind that many Mexicans have died or are in prison because of these things.
If the police enter your house or apartment, do not resist, but ask to see a search warrant.
It's better to cooperate and ask to speak to the nearest Mexican Consulate.
CONSULATES, PAGES 28 - 29
The Secretariat of Foreign Relations has 45 consular representatives within the U.S and on its southern border, which are designed to help you. Remember: if you have been detained or are serving a sentence, you have the right to speak with the nearest Mexican Consulate. Always carry your "Guide to Consular Protection" with you at all times.
Get Near to the Consulate. Embrace Mexico.
It's your home, fellow countryman!
- Secretariat of Foreign Relations
- General Administration of Protection and Consular Matters.
CONSULATES OF MEXICO IN THE UNITED STATES