Ariel Del Valle commenced negotiations with God when the seawater in the boat rose to just below his knees.
Near him, a man heaved his last meal. Others fought over whether to call for help. A few said nothing, silently coming to terms with their apparent doom.
Del Valle, 30, of Aguas Calientes, Mexico, thought of his family in Huntington Beach. He implored God in a whisper: "You let me see the sunset earlier today. Please give me the chance to see the sunrise."
This journey – sold to Del Valle as a quick boat ride into the United States, an alternative to a weeks-long march through the desert – had morphed into a nightmare. The "panga" carrying Ariel and other Mexican men was far out in the Pacific, its engine dead, its hull taking on water. He'd become part of a new smuggling phenomenon.