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Migrants compete with imposters for local charity

December 30, 2012

The influx of impoverished Central American migrants passing through Guadalajara en route to the United States has led to an unlikely phenomenon among Tapatios.

Over the past two years an increasing number of locals have been imitating the migrants by donning dirty clothes, rucksacks and blankets and adopting a false accent as they beg for money from passersby.

Although they may be exploiting the goodwill of those who take pity on the needy travelers, this does not necessarily mean they are undeserving of charity. The Felipe Calderon administration left over 50 percent of Mexicans living in poverty and the local impostors are invariably from economically deprived backgrounds as well.

Keen not to discourage people from aiding the migrants, Monica Salmon, the coordinator of FM4 Paso Libre (a non-profit organization which runs a shelter for the migrants in Guadalajara’s Colonia Ferrocarril), suggests that people offer them food or items that may help them on their journey, instead of simply giving money.

Driven by the lack of opportunity in their native countries, thousands of Central Americans decide to up sticks and pursue the American Dream each year. In Guadalajara they are most commonly seen around Avenida Inglaterra, which runs parallel to the train tracks that dissect the city.

It is a perilous journey, although the secondary Pacific Ocean route which passes through Guadalajara is considered safer than the shorter route through Tamaulipas, where many immigrants have been killed, kidnapped or press-ganged into working for Mexican drug cartels.

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