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SPECIAL EDITION: Border Crisis Update How They Get Here

by Gary D. Halbert

August 14, 2014

Riding “The Beast” To America

Instead of my blog that I normally write on Thursdays, this is a Special Edition of my Forecasts & Trends E-Letter. The photo just below was sent to me by a reader and this led me to the other images that follow. They are very disturbing!

I think we have all wondered how the tens of thousands of Central American illegal immigrants arrived at our Texas border this year. The number of accompanied and unaccompanied children alone is estimated at some 60,000 so far and could reach 90,000 by the end of this year according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Here is one way they come:

Illegal immigrants on train

Most of us who have been following this crisis have heard that some of the illegals were coming here by train, but these photos which have surfaced recently are stunning to say the least. Maybe you’ve seen them before but I first saw them this morning.

There’s a network of freight trains that runs the length of Mexico, from its southernmost border with Guatemala north to the United States. In addition to grain, corn, scrap metal, etc., these freight trains are carrying an increasing number of undocumented immigrants whose aim is to cross into the US.

Illegal immigrants on train

And despite the many deadly challenges it poses, more and more children – both with adults and alone – have been making the risky journey. These aren’t passenger trains; there are no  windows, seats or even a roof to guard from sun or rain. People call the trains La Bestia, or The Beast. Some call them “Death Trains” due to the many fatalities.

It’s estimated that up to a half-million illegals now ride The Beast trains each year, sitting back-to-back along the spine of the train cars, trying not to get knocked off their rooftop perch. Journeys on the trains can take a week or more, and many illegals have made this trip more than once, according to photojournalist Kevin Dannemiller who has lived in Mexico for almost 30 years.

From the Mexican border with Guatemala, the trek by train is 1,450 miles. Most of the riders are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Instead of being helped onto merry-go-round horses, kids from these countries are hoisted onto the back of these trains that may well spit them out, rather than shepherd them safely to the US border.

Illegal immigrants on train

The questions are many and more than I can go into in this Special Edition of F&T-E. Perhaps the most obvious is, how do they survive this dangerous week-or-longer journey? Another is, do they have to pay to ride The Beast and, if so, who do they pay and how much? Sadly, it appears that gangs such as the Zetas and MS13 control who gets to ride and at what price.

Travel on the train is extremely dangerous. Derailments are frequent, including an August 2013 incident that injured scores of people and killed 11. Rapes are reportedly common on The Beast, and immigrants are often robbed or extorted during the trip. As a result of this danger and the blistering July-August weather, ridership is reportedly down significantly recently.

As of the end of July, DHS estimated that only 10% of all immigrants entering the US in South Texas use The Beast, but that number is likely to increase again when cooler weather arrives. The DHS admitted recently that up to 1,500 people ride the freight trains daily.

Illegal immigrants on train

Interestingly, The Beast train network is reportedly owned by a US railroad company – Kansas City Southern (KCS) – that acquired it in 2005. There is a story here, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Best regards,

Gary D. Halbert


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Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

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