Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mexicans Using Giant Slingshot to Sneak into US

Weekly World News - Mexican illegal aliens are now entering the United States by flying -- but they're not taking airplanes, they're being flung over the border courtesy of giant slingshots, and U.S. immigration officials admit there's nothing they can do to stop it.

"We're stymied," says Roy Attenborough, a top U.S. Customs officer.

Mexicans who want to enter the U.S. illegally have either had to sneak through border crossings, or take long and dangerous journeys, traversing desert and wild rivers. The giant slingshot, set up about 200 yards from the U.S. border, sends them flying into Texas, where they land -- usually -- on giant mattresses.

The "slingbacks," as they're called, are then brought to a nearby farm where they work.

In addition to being quicker and safer, Mexicans are finding that coming into the country via slingshot has another advantage. "It's fun!" says a man who recently took the trip.

"Some of the illegal aliens even say they want to go back to Mexico so they can 'do the slingshot' again!" says Jorge, one of the trip coordinators, who declined to give his last name.

"We discourage them from unnecessarily repeating the trip," he says.

But U.S. immigration officials think it's anything but fun.

"It's an impossible situation," says Attenborough. "The first time I encountered this, I was standing on the border, and suddenly I heard this loud cry of 'Ayy Carambaaaaa!' over my head. I looked up, and this guy was flying through the air, holding on to his baseball cap.

"A minute later, I saw two big duffel bags following him." Customs agents are at a loss.

"The only way to stop them is to shoot them out of the sky," says Attenborough. "And we obviously can't do that, for political reasons."

Lately there's been a new innovation -- entire families flying together!

"They bundle up to four people into a 'family pack' and they all hurtle over, crying 'Ayy Carambaaaaa!' together!" says Attenborough.

Ironically, the slingshot service began because it was getting more difficult to get into the U.S. by other means.

The slingshots are mounted on wheels so that they can be set up from different mobile locations all the time, confounding US Customs officials who can't predict where the immigrants will land. The slingshot operators communicate with the men in charge of the giant mattresses -- which are also mounted on wheels -- via walkie-talkie, so that they can stay ahead of customs officials.

"It's very sophisticated," says Attenborough.

The new transportation system is not without its dangers. In three instances the two sides didn't communicate properly, and the Mexicans landed on hard ground.

"It's a new technology," Jorge says. "When airplanes were first invented, they crashed a lot, too."

Still, many Mexicans are willing to take the risk. "Besides," says a recent arrival, "it's a great way to see the country."