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Luckily, they use blanks - not bullets.
A tourist attraction in a small Mexican town offers customers – even kids - an opportunity to experience what it’s like to cross the Mexican border illegally as armed immigration officials chase them down in the middle of the night.
The simulation experience, called ‘La Caminata,’ opened in 2004 in Alberto, Mexico and since then the ride has been credited with saving a town facing a dire economic future. Prior to the ride, the town’s population had dropped from 1,235 in 2000 to 540 in 2005. In 2010, the population grew to 843 and the town has established itself as a tourist mecca 100 miles north of Mexico’s capital.
Every Saturday night, tourists pay $20 and flock to the town 700 miles away from the border for the three-hour long, adrenaline pumping, sweat inducing, experience through rough terrain.
Following a guide, or coyotes, tourists try to outrun immigration patrolmen armed with guns loaded with blanks, siren wailing patrol cars, and their best English speaking skills.
Organizers say the attraction is a teaching tool.
“What we try to do here is to raise awareness about the suffering of migrants,” a ‘La Caminata’ guide told documentary filmmaker Jamie Meltzer. “It’s a tribute to those migrants who didn’t find or arrive at their dream.”
The 15-minute documentary, released in 2009, features night footage of the attraction as curious thrill seekers huddle together under bridges and hidden in bushes.
General criticisms have suggested that the attraction is a training camp for people who are looking to cross the border. But proponents say it aims to do the opposite.
“It’s to discourage migration so that people will stop,” Julian Garcia, a resident of Alberto and employee of ‘La Caminata,’ said in the documentary.