I walked through the Mexicali Plaza Hotel where I have previously stayed in the modestly run-down cheap place. But, since one year ago, it has turned from a flophouse into a rather elegant hotel. The reason comes from India.

A year ago, India started running junkets of migrants on one-way tickets to Mexico with the intent of entering USA on political asylum. The Plaza brimmed with young male Indians for four straight months and the hotel reaped a fortune. Not so for the migrants. They are hiring a coyote on this side whom I talked to who takes them to a place at the nearby fence to jump with the guarantee that on landing they will be instantly nabbed by the US Border Patrol. If not, they keep trying or get their money back. In the turnaround, the US detention center occupancy has rocketed with 60% Indian people living free with three squares and a roof over their heads. The US may not deport them for they could be killed on return to their country and they can admit only so many over time.

The Plaza used the windfall to remodel the hotel from top to bottom as a tax break and raised its prices. However, the the hotel is empty, and no longer affordable to tourists like me. The Indians speak no Spanish so a Slab City resident has been hired as their interpreter and may soon may be able to afford a room at the Plaza.


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