Immigration reporter Cindy Carcamo's opener of a three-part series this past weekend in the Orange County Register was a doozy. With illegal overland entry into the United States from Mexico getting harder and harder, immigrants have increasingly turned toward the Pacific Ocean. She reported from Mexico and Guatemala for the stories, which the Register says were financed in part by an International Reporting Fellowship administered by The International Center for Journalists and funded by the Ford Foundation.
These sea journeys, starting in Baja and ending somewhere on the Southern California coast, generally cost more than land crossings. People pay up to $9,000 to make the trips. The voyages are fraught with danger, with people crammed into tiny boats designed for day fishing trips. Life jackets are rare. Communication is scarce. Night landings are typical.
While land travel still accounts for the majority of illegal immigration from Mexico, apprehensions along the Pacific Ocean have tripled since 2008 along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to federal estimates.
Apprehensions along the California coastline are on pace to break records.
In the first 10 months of this fiscal year – starting in October – U.S. immigration agents picked up 558 people in connection with 156 smuggling incidents along the coastline from San Diego to San Luis Obispo counties, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data. The numbers include drug and human smuggling.
It's unclear how many boats go undetected.
Part 2 is scheduled for next Sunday, and Part 3 a week later. But they are her swan song with the Register. Carcamo announced on Facebook today that she's leaving the Register to cover border issues and the Southwest for the Los Angeles Times as a national correspondent based in Arizona. She starts Oct. 1. Pandora Young at Fishbowl LA posted the news earlier this afternoon. Last week, Carcamo talked about the series with Fishbowl's Richard Horgan.
Photo of Carcamo from Facebook