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At the US border, migrants’ desperation outweighs fear

#border #migrants #desperation #outweighs #fear

At the US border, migrants’ desperation outweighs fear

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At the US border, migrants’ desperation outweighs fear


A Venezuelan migrant family waits to be arrested by US authorities after crossing the border into Eagle Pass, Texas
AFP-CHANDAN KHANNA

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Selvin Allende is exhausted. With his one-year-old daughter on his shoulders and his pregnant wife at his side, he crossed the Rio Grande from the Mexican town of Piedras Negras to Eagle Pass, Texas — a perilous journey taken by thousands of migrants each year in search of a better future.

“I was afraid for my daughter in the river. I feel tired, depressed but with dreams of working when immigration services listen to us with their hearts,” says the 30-year-old Guatemalan.

The family left their home in Honduras because of crime and lack of work, and made the long journey by train and foot to get here.

He and his wife walk with an effort, their eyes half closed, to the border police waiting for them under one of the bridges that connect Mexico and the United States. Your belongings fit in a pair of plastic bags.

The agents check their passports and those of other people who have recently arrived and take them into custody to examine their asylum applications.

The scene is repeated several times a day under the resigned looks of the security forces. “It never stops. You can cross anywhere, anytime,” said a National Guard soldier who asked not to be named.

The tightening of security in recent months has not stemmed the arrival of visa-free migrants. In May, authorities arrested more than 239,000 people at the Mexican border, a record, although the number includes those who made repeated attempts to enter the United States.


Border Patrol and National Guard troops play with a migrant child who made it to Texas

AFP-CHANDAN KHANNA

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And yet the journey comes with serious risks, as illustrated by the case of 53 migrants who were found dead Monday in San Antonio after being dumped in a muggy tractor trailer.

The man suspected of driving the truck said he was unaware the trailer’s air conditioning had failed, according to media reports.

– ‘Crying with happiness’ –

On the Mexican bank of the river, trucks come and go, letting passersby cross to the other side.

This afternoon, the temperature hits 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) and some migrants cool off in the water as they wait for more people to arrive to cross the treacherous river that has claimed many lives.

A Venezuelan family – five men, two women and two children – decides the moment has come. Their crossing takes 10 minutes and halfway they hold on to each other to brave the strong currents.

Arriving on the American side, they scream with delight before surrendering to the border patrol.

The relief is visible on everyone’s face. Alejandro Galindo, another Venezuelan crossing the river nearby, is emotional after 26 days of traveling with two companions.

“I’m crying with happiness. I want to help my family. We have no future in Venezuela,” says the 28-year-old.

– A changing profile –


A couple of migrants hug after successfully crossing the Rio Grande
AFP-CHANDAN KHANNA

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Eagle Pass, a town of 22,000 about 140 miles from San Antonio, has learned to live with the daily presence of migrants.

A few meters from the border bridge, several men are playing golf in the yellowish grass, ignoring the people crossing the river.

Valeria Wheeler, director of Mission Border Hope Animal Shelter, witnesses the challenges of the migratory wave every day.

In two years, their facilities have grown from 20 migrants a week to as many as 600 a day.

The newcomers spend a few hours there in a large warehouse with benches, toilets and showers, waiting for a relative to pay for their transport to another city.

The economic profile of migrants has changed recently, says Wheeler, 35.

It used to be usually people who could buy a plane ticket anywhere near the border. But now they are poorer and arrive on foot from Mexico or Central America.

“They come in with physical and emotional wounds,” says Wheeler, whose shelter only accepts those released by border patrol who can seek asylum after bypassing Title 42.


Migrants walk past the accordion wire after successfully crossing Texas
AFP-CHANDAN KHANNA

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The measure, launched under the administration of former President Donald Trump, applies to all Mexicans and Central Americans and allows visa-free migrants to be deported, even if they are seeking asylum, on the pretext of stopping the spread of Covid-19 .

For those trying to evade border security and deportation, the journey is even more dangerous than for others.

So-called coyotes or human traffickers are an option, but the price can go as high as $10,000, and that’s not the worst, as evidenced by the case of the 53 people found dead in San Antonio.

“We’re here so the people who arrive at the shelter don’t have to go through the same thing,” says Wheeler. “That’s what we work for.”

gma/smw/ist


Copyright AFP or Agence France-Presse, 2022.

Social Tags:
#border #migrants #desperation #outweighs #fear

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