Todd Bensman holds up cut up piece at the USA Mexican border. Photo by Todd Bensman.
JUAREZ, MEXICO — While driving along a highway some 15 miles west of this cartel-infested Mexican metropolis last month, I couldn’t help but notice an unending series of scars all along the parallel steel-mesh length of border wall, built during the George W. Bush era, that closely ran alongside it.
At intervals of about every foot of this old wall segment for several miles, at about knee to ankle level, cartel human smugglers had cut out square segments of the steel mesh on the Mexican side big enough for adults to pass through.
I counted seven unpatched square holes in a short stretch, each hole deeply trammeled with footprints on both sides of the wall.
While I was photographing one of the holes up close, two La Linea cartel men armed with AR-15s pulled up in an SUV loaded with immigrants to use it.
Oops, I smiled, disarmingly, caught red-handed at the very hole they intended to use, offering to leave right away and praying they wouldn’t open fire.
“No problemo!” the passenger-side one said, smiling.
He waved goodbye, signaled the driver to hit the gas, and drove a hundred yards further on, where they offloaded six immigrants whom I saw run straight to yet another hole and disappear through it.
Border Patrol has an official nomenclature for the kind of immigrants I watched going through that hole: “runners” who, if they are not caught, become “gotaways” once they complete their long guided-backpacking treks to a US highway and get picked up for rides to American cities. . . .