Monday, April 28, 2014

The Strange Case of the Chinese Girl in the Arizona Desert

Nine years ago I was hiking with friends in southern Arizona near the Mexican border. We came across a dry riverbed and followed it along the border. As we walked one of my friends noticed a backpack half buried in the sand along the side of the sandy riverbed. I picked it up and examined it and found it contained papers and photographs and money from China. We later spoke to a border patrol officer about our find and were told that southern Arizona was a common place of illegal entry into the US by Chinese snakeheads, who charge as much as $35,000 per person to bring Chinese laborers from China to Mexico and then escort them across the border into Arizona and California. I used the information in the backpack to locate the owner's family in south China. They in turn gave me her telephone number in Los Angeles. I called her. She was working in a Chinese restaurant for sub-minimum wage in Los Angeles and was very frightened at my discovery of her lost backpack. She did not want me to return her things at that time, including her money. She said she would get in touch with me later and asked me not to contact her again. She took my phone number and address but I never heard from her again. My feeling was that she was terrified at having been found and did not want to risk the chance of trouble either with the people who brought her to the US or with American authorities.

I will provide, below, the photographs of the contents of this young woman's belongings abandoned in a dry riverbed one night as she sneaked into the US,