Helping someone illegally cross into the US may sound like a low-tech job, but a big part of it is increasingly going digital. According to Reuters, the smugglers who help Central Americans make their way into the US — often known as "coyotes" — are starting to find their clients online, particularly thanks to word of mouth over social networks. To that same end, people looking to cross into the US have begun going online to locate coyotes who can help them, asking around for people who have had success.
Law enforcement watch the social networks too
But coyotes' increased business isn't simply a matter of social networks making it easier for them and clients to find each other, according to Reuters, in a deep look at the practice. Rather, US officials reportedly say that interest in crossing the border is actually increasing because of immigrants' use of Facebook, Skype, and other social networks. Immigrants who succeed in making it across the border and settling down are able to use the web to connect with their families, letting people who have remained behind know of their success and giving them help on how to make it over.
Of course, bringing these activities online and into the public sphere of social networks also makes them another tool for law enforcement officers trying to protect the border. According to Reuters, Honduras' national police is aware of the practice and says that it monitors social networks for coyotes. Honduras says that it isn't looking out for the people looking to migrate — but of course, they have plenty to look out for on their journey as it is.