People try all kinds of crazy ways to get into the United States, but a recent border patrol photo of a Thai woman stuffed into a suitcase may be among the most depressing and weirdest. If you look to the left, you will see the woman, a Thai national named Pornkamol Mongkolsermsak, who was charged with re-entry after deportation.
For some people, it might be a photo of people fighting a good fight and they might be glad she was found when she was. But I see something else. I see a woman so desperate to stay in the US that she would do anything to do so. Can you imagine how long she was going to be expected to endure those cramped conditions.
It's just sad. Whatever you feel about immigration, it's hard to not have compassion for a woman like that.
The woman was discovered on December 30 at the Nogales, Arizona border crossing after the driver of the Honda SUV in which she was riding was put through a second inspection. When officers inspected the vehicle, they opened up the suitcase and found the 48-year-old woman hidden underneath some clothing. The case has been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and she will surely be sent back to Thailand.
I don't know enough about her personal circumstances to know whether or not she should be sent back. I do know that people should follow the legal ways to emigrate to the United States. Still, I also feel for the desperation.
People are enduring painful, hot, long journeys into the US in the back of trucks. They are risking walking though dangerously high waters and scaling fences and walking through the deserts. They are trusting sketchy people who take their money and don't protect them and they are doing all this for a shot at the American dream.
Those of us who are here ought not to take that for granted. But we should also have some compassion. Obviously we need immigration laws and we need ways of regulating it, but hearing a story like this is heartbreaking, too.
Whatever happens to her, I hope her life gets better.
Do you think this woman should be punished in some way?
Image via U.S. Customs Border Patrol