Things That Matter

This Teen Girl Was Forced To Wait In Mexico Under The ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy And She Nearly Drowned In The Rio Grande

In June, 25-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-year-old daughter Angie Valeria drowned in the Rio Grande trying to reach the U.S. to seek asylum. The horrific image of their lifeless bodies, face down, in the water, was published everywhere. Some said the image represented the immigration crisis, others said their death was the result of President Donald Trump’s anti-asylum agenda. The truth is both of those aspects, but the fact remains that countless people have died trying to cross through the Rio Grande, and some just don’t make it. Some, however, fortunately, survive. 

A 17-year-old girl Honduran asylum-seeker was swept into the Rio Grande and nearly drowned.

According to BuzzFeed, the young girl named Breni entered the river with a friend in order to bathe. However, both girls were taken in by the current. Her friend, a 14-year-old, sadly didn’t make it and drowned in the river. 

“They couldn’t get to me and the water sucked me in,” Breni said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “All I could see was water before I went under and then everything went black.” 

Thankfully, the girl was rescued by fellow migrants who eventually were able to pull her out of the waters.

Her father, who was nearby, saw that she was being pulled out and believed her daughter was dead. According to the report, others did as well because her rescuers did chest compressions. Breni was taken to the hospital and it was there that she finally woke up.  BuzzFeed News reports that Breni and her father are living on the streets of Matamoros, Mexico awaiting their U.S. asylum hearing. They did not disclose why they had fled their country of Honduras. The father added that he feels the hospital released his daughter too soon. 

“It’s tough because I want my daughter to be okay and I know they didn’t give her the attention she deserved,” Breni’s dad said. “I wish we didn’t have to bathe in the river, but we do it out of necessity. We don’t have much here.”

The number of migrants deaths at the border is unclear, though as of June there have been more than 283 deaths. 

According to the Associated Press, “283 migrant deaths were recorded along the 2,000-mile border last year. The death toll so far this year was not immediately released.” Many of those deaths occurred when people were trying to cross the Rio Grande. Several deaths were recorded this summer, and earlier this year in May, a raft that overturned killed four people, including a baby

“The Rio Grande Valley Sector currently has multiple campaigns focused on rescues and danger awareness, such as ‘Operation Big Rig’ and ‘No Se Arriesgue’ to combat smuggling and ultimately save lives,”  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in the release, in June, according to CNN.  

The Rio Grande stretches 1,885 miles and is used by migrants to cross into the U.S. 

While the CBP claims to have agents to help migrants at the Rio Grande Valley, other information express the contrary. The Associated Press reports that Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero said in June that “that in past years, agents would be posted near canals and hear the cries of help from migrants. But they are doing other duties this year with so many immigrants showing up, some in poor health. ‘Unfortunately, because of the large influx of illegal aliens and agents having to be diverted to other duties, such as transporting, hospital escorts … there are not a lot of agents readily available to hear these cries.'”

As of August, there are an estimated 58,000 asylum seekers that are stuck in Mexico under Trump’s policy because they’re awaiting asylum hearings.

The New York Times is reporting that 58,000 asylum seekers remain around Mexico’s border, in various cities, as they await their hearing. The backlog for these asylum hearings is up to six to eight months. The reason why the asylum seekers remain close to the border is that they’re unsure of when they will be called for their court hearing. According to the Mother Jones article, they can sometimes be told to appear within hours.

On Sept. 9, federal courts “reinstated a nationwide injunction blocking a Trump administration asylum ban that denied asylum to anyone at the southern border who had transited through a third country en route to the United States,” the American Civil Liberties report after they filed a lawsuit against Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.  ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt stated, “The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”

READ: Thanks To Trump’s ‘Remain In México’ Policy, A Man And His Kid Were Kidnapped Hours After Returning To Mexico

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

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Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

As the United States experiences a so-called surge of people attempting to enter the U.S., human traffickers and smugglers are working double time as they try to capitalize on the increased movements.

Cartels and human traffickers have long run their smuggling operations like a legitimate business but they’ve only got more advanced in how they move people across the border region and one key tool: color-coded bracelets. These bracelets almost act as passports for migrants to safely cross a cartel’s territory without interference or threats of violence. But what do these bracelets mean and how are they fueling the problem of human trafficking?

Plastic bracelets are being used by cartels to identify migrants in their territory. 

U.S. border agents carried out nearly 100,000 apprehensions or rapid expulsions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, which is the highest monthly total since mid-2019. With the increase in people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, cartels are managing this migration of people over their territory and trying to make money off the humanitarian crisis. 

Many cartels have implemented a color-coded bracelet system that identifies those migrants who have paid for permission to cross their territory. In the Rio Grande Valley sector, Border Patrol agents have recently encountered immigrants wearing the bracelets during several apprehensions, Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters.

The “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups,” Dyman said.

The color-coded system isn’t totally understood.

Credit: ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Migrants can pay thousands of dollars for the journey to the United States and human smugglers have to pay off drug cartels to move people through parts of Mexico. This is a money-making operation and cartels want to pay close attention to who has paid. The bracelets may just be a new way to keep track.

Criminal groups operating in northern Mexico, however, have long used systems to log which migrants have already paid for the right to be in gang-controlled territory, as well as for the right to cross the border into the United States, according to migration experts. In fact, in 2019, smugglers kept tabs on rapidly arriving Central American migrants by double checking the names and IDs of migrants before they got off the bus to make sure they had paid. 

One man, a migrant in Reynosa – across the border from McAllen, Texas – who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, showed Reuters a picture of a purple wristband he was wearing. He told them that he had paid $500 to a criminal group in the city after he arrived from Honduras to ensure that he wasn’t kidnapped or extorted. He said once migrants or their smugglers have paid for the right to cross the river, which is also controlled by criminal groups, they receive another bracelet.

“This way we’re not in danger, neither us nor the ‘coyote,’” he told Reuters.

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