Mexican Town Turns Illegal Immigration into a Tourist Attraction
At risk of becoming a ghost town, the small community of El Alberto, Mexico, has turned illegally crossing the border into the United States into a tourist attraction.
For $18 a person, tourists can experience what it’s like for illegal immigrants to slip into the U.S., but without the real danger of being arrested.
About 100 people from El Alberto (out of a population of about 830) are employed by the Caminata Nocturna (Night Walk), which offers the four-hour, 7.5-mile journey that simulates the ordeal of unauthorized entry onto American soil, including physically demanding activities like running from the authorities, avoiding cactus plants and crawling under barbed wire fences. “Border Patrol” agents and “coyotes” involved in the simulation are all locals playing a role and earning some money. El Alberto is actually about 400 miles from the U.S. border. Most of the inhabitants are Hnahnu Indians, also known as Otomi.
When the Caminata first began in 2004, El Alberto had lost more than 50% of its population in just five years. Now, the population exodus has ceased, and the Caminata has brought much needed revenue into the local economy.
To Learn More:
Unreal Ordeal (by Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times)
'La Caminata' Gives Tourists A Simulated Illegal Border-Crossing Experience (by Sara Gates, Huffington Post)
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