Dire News

Standing Room Only

by on May.19, 2011, under Crime, Culture, History

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

In the early 20th century, immigrants were, if not welcome, mostly tolerated. They provided an essential labor force to build a rapidly growing country. They were mostly poor people looking for a better life, and many of them had to sell all of their possessions and borrow money just to get here. They didn't travel first class.

Fourth class travel was often called "Steerage Class" because the passengers were crowded like cattle. But that was nearly a hundred years ago. Immigrants and the way they travel have changed drastically.

Instead of Europeans arriving by ship, today's immigrants are mostly Mexicans entering on foot or in vehicles.

But sometimes conditions aren't any better.

Recently, Mexican police found 513 people squeezed together in two trucks just outside Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas - a painful 18-hour-drive away from the nearest US border.

They were caught when the trucks sped through a vehicle scanner at a police checkpoint. After the incredible X-ray image came up on the screen, police gave chase, finding 240 people in one truck and 273 crammed into the other. The vacationers are being given spacious apartments before being repatriated to their home countries.

Bachelor quarters

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