Tight squeeze: Three Mexicans found by Border Patrol crammed in tiny wooden box in back of camper van as they tried to cross into California
- Trio were squeezed together inside storage compartment beneath a bed
- A wooden lid had been tightly screwed into place above them
- Discovery comes as outspoken deportee Elvira Arellano returns to U.S.
- She crossed border with son in challenge to U.S. immigration policies
- About 150 migrants joined with her in the protest this week
Three Mexican migrants were found squeezed together inside a wooden box in the back of a camper van when it was stopped by Border Patrol at a checkpoint near the California-Mexico border.
Agents discovered the illegal immigrants after a Border Patrol sniffer dog raised the alarm when the vehicle was stopped near Indio, in the Coachella Valley.
The trio were stuffed tight in a storage compartment beneath a bed in the camper van. A wooden lid had been tightly screwed into place above them.
When agents unscrewed the lid they found three males, aged 17, 19, and 21, folded over inside the box.
The vehicle’s 23-year-old male driver and an 18-year-old female passenger, both U.S. citizens, were arrested on suspicion of migrant smuggling.
Elvira Arellano, 38, was paroled with her 5-month-old son, Emiliano, two days after they openly crossed the border in a challenge to the Obama administrations record numbers of deportations.
They are among about 150 people who have sought to enter the country without legal documents at San Diego’s Otay Mesa port of entry since last week in protest at U.S. immigration policies. Many planned to claim asylum.
‘We are pleased to be here with friends who have helped us,’ said Ms Arellano. ‘We are going to continue fighting for other fathers and mothers to also be freed.’
People who claim fear of persecution are often released from custody while they wait for a judge to decide their cases.
It was unclear how many protesters who crossed in San Diego were in custody and how many were paroled.
Unlike similar protests last year in Arizona and Texas, many were not ‘dreamers’ — young adults who came to the U.S. as children and were raised here but who were subsequently thrown out by immigration rulings.
Some, like Ms Arellano, were parents of young children, while others were indeed ‘dreamers’, Democracy Now reported.
Ms Arellano said she would return to Chicago, where she has an immigration hearing next month. She reunited yesterday with her 15-year-old son who was born in the U.S. and joined her crossing the border two days earlier.
For years, Ms Arellano has been an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration laws and and President Barack Obama for the roughly 2million deportations that have occurred during his administration.
During marches last week in Tijuana, she rallied the crowd with a bullhorn.
Ms Arellano hired a smuggler to come to the U.S. illegally in the Nineties and, after three years in Yakima, Washington, moved to Chicago, where she cleaned airplanes for a contractor at O’Hare International Airport.
She was arrested in an immigration sting in 2002 but rather than surrender to immigration authorities, she took refuge at the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago in August 2006.
She left after more than a year for a publicity tour that that took her to Los Angeles, where authorities arrested her near a church and swiftly deported her to Tijuana.