By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Border Patrol agents had been trailing Daniel and about 35 immigrants making their unlawful journey in the early morning of August 24. The migrants hid in the trees and brush during the day, when detection is most likely, and resumed their trek at nightfall. On the fourth day, they continued walking as the sun started to creep above the horizon. They had come so far, and many felt confident that they would make it all the way to Phoenix.
They had no way of knowing that they had been spotted hours before field agents arrived. An infrared camera mounted on a mobile-surveillance truck had sensed the heat radiating from their bodies.
The rushing headlights of Border Patrol vehicles scattered the confused and panicked immigrants.
Daniel and his wife hid in some trees, but as the agents moved closer, the couple bolted. He scampered up a rocky hillside as fast as he could. Fear pumped through his body.
The agents shouted at the migrants to stop. Daniel wasn't sure how many officers were after them—but it wasn't 35. Because his group was that large, he knew the agents couldn't catch them all.
He ran without looking back until all he could hear was his own labored breathing. He glanced over his shoulder. His wife was gone.
Dianna, worn out from three nights of walking through the desert, couldn't keep pace, and the agent had nabbed her easily.
Out of breath and out of ideas, Daniel headed back to look for his wife. Once he spotted her, he moved slowly downhill with his hands in the air, palms out, toward the fuming officer.
The agent approached and "hit me in the face," Daniel told VVM, as he touched the side of his mouth, still bruised about 10 days later.
Daniel sat next to Dianna at the tiny soup kitchen in Nogales, Sonora.
A few people that evening shared their deportation stories. Some said they were treated well, given food and water. Many refused to share their experiences, saying only that they planned to cross the border again.
Daniel reluctantly shared his only after a couple of men pointed him out and said they had witnessed him take a beating.
"There was another man," Daniel says. "He ran, too, and the border agent smashed him two or three times in the head with the butt of his gun."
Sounding almost grateful, he says, "Me, I was only kicked twice."
He says the agent treated him better as they walked to the perrera: "When I talked to him in English, he was different toward me."
Dianna says she wasn't injured but added that she shared a cell with a woman who had a dislocated knee.
"We told her to ask the guards for help, maybe for some ice," Dianna said. "She told us she had, but they wouldn't give her anything for it."
Daniel said he never expected to be treated well by Border Patrol agents—that they are just one of the many perils immigrants face when they enter the United States illegally.
"We know things are dangerous when we cross," Daniel said. "We just want to work. We don't [want] anything else. We don't have a future in Mexico."