A central Mexican amusement park offers a unique, hair-raising, heart-pounding attraction you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else — a fake, illegal border crossing from Mexico into the United States.
Complete with fake coyotes — or human traffickers — drug smugglers and realistic-looking U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, the attraction, called “Night Walks,” was ostensibly set up to frighten people out of entering the United States illegally, according to PBS.org.
PBS’ Irina Zhorov made the “crossing” with about 40 Mexico City private school students, and they were all led by a masked “trafficker” named “Simon.”
“Tonight we’re going to talk about migration,” Simon said in Spanish. “But for us it isn’t just something rhetorical, but rather the opposite. Because we have endured, we have suffered, of hunger, thirst, injustice, heat, cold, we have suffered from everything.”
Then, the thrill-seekers set off into the night.
For the next three hours, the participants were treated to the harrowing confusion of sirens, flashing lights, barking dogs and shouted commands in English from the “border agents,” all in the dead of night, adding to the fear and confusion.
The park hopes the attraction will stem the tide of migration north.
The HñaHñu community has lost about 80 percent of its population to the U.S., Garcia estimates, mainly to Arizona and Nevada. Garcia says it was the HñaHñu youth returning home after crossing the real border who thought up this tourist attraction as a way to create income for the community and encourage others to stay in Mexico.
“Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.,” park Administrator Maribel Garcia said.
Titi, one of the other “coyotes” for “Night Walks,” emphasized that it is not used as training for the real thing.
“We try to help people so that they won’t leave,” Titi said. “It’s time to create some employment, to work with our own and regenerate everything, or at least what we can, even though it might be slow going.”
“The youth that already have something figured out, that already have something visualized for the future, they’re the youth that in that moment think, ‘How difficult,'” she said.
By the time the three-hour attraction was over, one of the students, Jazmin Arely Moreno Alcazar said she got the message.
“It’s not worth risking it because if we can’t stand a few hours, we won’t be able to stand days. Because it’s very ugly,” Alcazar said.
Listen to the PBS report below.