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[pct-l] Border situation

Oooh, sticky topic.  We have had about 14 confirmed deaths of illegals in the
"backcountry" of San Diego County recently.  There is a lot of controversy
about the whole matter.  Most of the folks are just dirt poor people who are
trying to find a better life for themselves.  For them, minimum wage is a
fortune.  As a hiker, chances are you aren't ever going to see anyone, since
they are as afraid of you as you might be of them.  If you do see them, they
might beg some food or water off you.  The "coyotes"-- the people who make
money smuggling people-- are often considered the worst offenders, because
they bring the people over regardless of the weather, and may just take their
money and run, leaving these people out in the middle of nowhere with no
maps, food, water and with only the clothes on their backs which is not
enough to keep them warm when the temperatures dip.  The Border Patrol at
Campo says it's just a matter of time before someone else (hiker, other
gringo) gets hurt--just because of the sheer numbers of people.  (We're
talking thousands here.)  There are always some bad ones in the bunch.
 Illegal fires have also been a problem, especially when it gets dry.
 Sometimes the fires are reportedly set deliberately to act as a distraction.

Last year we did hear about hikers getting accosted, one at gunpoint, but I
have never heard of anyone actually getting hurt.  My biggest fear is the
criminal element--the coyotes or the drug smugglers who are more desperate
characters with less to lose.  So, just be careful and take normal
precautions.  Watch out for rattlers, ticks, and your fellowman.  

Val (formerly of the PCTA Office) 
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