Special Reports

Time after time, they run from squalor

A man slips through the border fence where it runs into the Pacific surf at Tijuana, Mexico.  10272009  KEITH MYERS/The Kansas City Star
A man slips through the border fence where it runs into the Pacific surf at Tijuana, Mexico. 10272009 KEITH MYERS/The Kansas City Star KEITH MYERS/Kansas City Star

TIJUANA, Mexico | Agents who patrol the border between the United States and Mexico near Tijuana know some people will try just about anything to come to America.

The squalid conditions in Tijuana (above) are why they are so desperate for a better life.

Agents see people smuggled inside homemade coffins secured underneath a vehicle. Bottoms of boats lined with men, women and children.

Or they see immigrants like this man, who exploits any opening in the fence and makes a run for it. Though a Border Patrol agent wasn’t far away, he took his chance in broad daylight.

And he wasn’t the only immigrant who squeezed through this section of fence that day.

Nearly every day, maintenance crews near the San Ysidro point of entry at Tijuana travel along the steel fence between the two countries just patching holes. Immigrants often use battery-powered saws to cut an opening.

“It’s job security,” joked Edward Legaspi, a member of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection fence crew, as he patched a hole one morning.

Mondays are the busiest, he said, with up to a half-dozen gaping holes left from the weekend.

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