Things That Matter

Migrant Families Are Still Being Ripped Apart At The Border As Parents Are Sent Back To Wait In Mexico

The end of year holidays are generally a joyous time to spend with your loved ones. In some cases, they are the perfect push one needs to reconnect with a estranged relative or friend. It is a time to be together, hold your little mijos or sobrinos tight and perhaps spend one last New Year’s with an old abuelita who might not be here next time around. However, for many migrant and asylum-seeking families who fail in their attempt to enter the United States this is not an option. 

Family separation at the border has been a very contentious issue during the Trump administration, as opponents to this measure say that it is simply wrong and inhumane, while supporters provide the simplistic assumption that detained migrants get what they deserve because no one asked them to try to enter the United States. Legal battles have been waged and pundits on both sides of the immigration debate have taken their gloves off. Now a recent investigation has revealed that misinformation has effectively altered the lives of migrants, for the worse. 

The investigation revealed that bad info has led migrants to nightmarish situation in which parents and children are separated.

Credit: Manuel Ortega-Ruiz / Getty

Adolfo Flores over at BuzzFeed went to the border town of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in Mexico to inteview asylum seekers who had been separated from their families. As he interviewed them a constant theme emerged: bad information is leading the authorities to take kids off their parents, who are then sent to Mexico even if they originally come from thousands of miles south in Central America.

Such is the case of one Miguel, and Honduran asylum-seeker whose son Francisco was taken by Border Patrol in August. Francisco was only 12-years-old. Miguel hasn’t seen him since then and the only thing he was told by an agent was “Your son can’t go where we’re taking you. We’re taking him to a safe place”. Can you imagine the pain this causes? We simply cannot.

Parents are being sent to Mexico to wait until their cases in the US are resolved: 60,000 have been sent south of the border during the Trump administration.

Credit: Denver Journal of International Law & Policy

Talk about a state of cruel purgatory. As reported by Flores, Miguel and Francisco “are now caught in the middle of the government’s continued separation of families at the border and a Trump administration policy, known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), that has sent thousands of immigrants to wait in Mexico while their US cases are completed”. This is simply inhumane. The Mexican government of course shares some responsibility as the Lopez Obrador administration has been extra accommodating to Trump’s demands much to the disdain of human rights activists… and pretty much any human with a heart and a little bit of compassion in their veins. 

Once in Mexico, often in unsafe and unfamiliar locations such as Reynosa, parents try to find legal help to get their children back.

Miguel believes that his case is mired with misinformation and that this complicates his prospects. He is waiting in the city of Reynosa, perhaps one of the most dangerous in Mexico. In Reynosa and other border cities, an emerging legal industry is aiding migrants. However, it is possible that lawyers are also taking advantage of them. Added to this, the population is developing a xenophobia against Central American migrants as the number of asylum seekers sent to Mexico rises.

As reported by Flores, cases like Miguel’s highlight how this policies “sometimes based on incomplete or misleading information, leaves an unknown number of desperate parents and guardians at a loss to know how to get their children back while holed up in dangerous locations in Mexico”. Just close your eyes and try to imagine the desperation and utter despair of now knowing where your children or siblings are, if they are sick, if they are eating. 

Many of the stories are heartbreaking.

Credit: Daniel Noriega / Slate

Many of the cases need to be read to be believed. As reported by Flores: “A complaint filed by the Women’s Refugee Commission in August with two DHS watchdog agencies detailed 20 cases where families were separated by CBP at the border and at least some members were sent back to Mexico under MPP.”

There is a Guatemalan man who speaks almost no Spanish and whose son was taken by Border Patrol solely based on the belief that the birth certificate was fake. A Salvadorian young woman who had been taking care of her siblings after their mother was murdered was separated from them even if custody had been granted in El Salvador. And the list goes on and on. 

There Is Chaos At The Mexico-Guatemala Border As The Next Migrant Caravan Tries To Enter Mexico And AMLO Pushes Back

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There Is Chaos At The Mexico-Guatemala Border As The Next Migrant Caravan Tries To Enter Mexico And AMLO Pushes Back

Jose Torres / Getty

Last week news broke that another migrant caravan was forming in Honduras, in an attempt to safely cross Guatemala and Mexico on the way to the United States. Immediately, the reports were met with a mix of panic and indignity among Central American leaders who vowed to stop the caravan before reaching the US-Mexican border.

And it looks like that plan has been put into motion. Although Guatemala allowed many migrants through its territory, upon reaching the border with Mexico, many migrants were turned away, or worse.

A caravan of nearly 3,000 people has been met with force as they’ve tried to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration giving them more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants. Even though these exact same countries are ill-equipped to handle the influx of migrants – let alone fight back against their country’s own poverty, violence, and corruption that force many migrants to flee in the first place.

Mexican government officials ordered them to block entry into the country. 

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying it would detain any migrants without legal status, and deport them if they couldn’t legalize their status. 

Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.

Hopes were raised on Friday after Mexican President AMLO announced that there were 4,000 jobs along the southern border available to migrants.

The day after AMLO’s statement regarding possible job opportunities, more than 1,000 migrants attempted to cross into Mexico. According to the country’s National Institute of Migration (INM), each migrant was interviewed and told about opportunities with two government development programs. which will be implemented along the southern border and in both El Salvador and Honduras.

Meanwhile, as migrants waited to be processed for entry into Mexico, a loudspeakers warned migrants against applying for asylum in the US. However, many migrants are doubtful when it comes to Mexico’s offer of work.

“I don’t believe that. It is a lie,” one migrant told Al Jazeera. “They are just trying to find a means trap us and to debilitate the caravan.”

The violence at the Mexico-Guatemala border has left children separated from their families as crowds were sent fleeing from pepper spray.

Credit: Jeff Abbott / Flickr

As Mexican security forces launched tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of migrants attempting to enter the country – hundreds were forced to flee. The ensuing chaos left children lost without their parents and mothers and fathers desperately searching for their children.

A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers said their children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.

“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

Many have harsh words for Mexico’s President AMLO – calling him a puppet and a coward.

Although most agree that every country has the right to enforce its own immigration laws, many are upset with AMLO for the way his administration has cracked down on Central American migrants. Many see the crackdown as little more than bowing to pressure from Trump – turning him into a puppet of the US.

So what should AMLO do when dealing with unauthorized migrants and pressure from a US President?

First, violence and attacks on migrants simply crossing territory should never be on the table. Second, AMLO’s administration should let the caravan reach the US-border and let the asylum process play out as it was meant to do under international law. Just because Trump wants AMLO to join him in breaking international norms, doesn’t mean he should.

But many doubt that will ever happen. Neither of these presidents, Trump nor AMLO, will change course to support legal asylum claims.

So what’s next? Will Mexico relent and agree to pay for Trump’s border wall? Don’t dismiss the idea, not when the Mexican president has so far carried out Trump’s every whim.

Hundreds Of Migrants Are Attempting To Form Another Caravan To The United States But Here’s Why Mexico Won’t Let Them Pass

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Hundreds Of Migrants Are Attempting To Form Another Caravan To The United States But Here’s Why Mexico Won’t Let Them Pass

@Delmar_Martinez / Twitter

Migrants often group together to form large groups for reasons of safety, child care, and increased presence during confrontations with police, gangs, and immigration agents. It’s these reasons that helped spur the large caravans of migrants that traveled from Central Mexico to the United States in 2018.

In 2018, the migrant caravans were a major talking point for conservative politicians who used them to instill fear in voters. However, few migrants actually made it to the US-Mexico border and those that did were turned away to await their asylum claims in Mexico. Now, thanks to new immigration agreements and unilateral pressure by the US, most migrants realize that their journey across Central American and Mexico won’t likely result in them successfully making it to the United States.

Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants grouped together to try and form a caravan to help aide passage to the United States.

Credit: @Delmer_Martinez / Twitter

So far, according to reports, about 1,300 Honduran migrants have successfully crossed the border into Guatemala.

Guatemalan police officers were accompanied at the checkpoint by four agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agent Alex Suárez told the AFP that ICE was there to train Guatemalan authorities in immigration control.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Homeland Security personnel — ICE as well as Customs and Border Protection — are in Guatemala “providing advisory and capacity building support” to deal with irregular migration.

According to Guatemala’s new president, Mexico plans to contain the caravan before it’s able to make it to the US.

Credit: EqualityNow / Instagram

Mexico’s government is bracing for the arrival of hundreds of Central Americans on its southern border in coming days, an event likely to be closely monitored by the U.S. government, which has made curbing illegal immigration a priority.

Guatemala’s president said he had met with Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who had told him that Mexico would not allow the caravan to advance into its territory.

“The Mexican government advised us that it is not going to let them pass … that it is going to use everything in its hands to keep them from passing,” Giammattei said. 

“We will warn those in the caravan that they are probably going to be able to arrive to the border (with Mexico), but from there on they are going to collide with a wall that they will not be able to penetrate and we believe many of them are going to give up.” 

Later, Mexico Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero, said Mexico would welcome those seeking asylum or protection and offer opportunities for those who wanted to enter legally and seek permission to work or study.

Giammattei said travel agreements between Central American nations required Guatemala to grant the migrants passage.

Credit: ZaraConZ / Instagram

In his first full day in office, Guatemala’s new president, Alejandro Giammattei, said the Hondurans would be allowed to enter Guatemala, which they must cross to reach Mexico and the United States.

“We cannot prevent people who have identification” from entering, Giammattei said. “We are going to ask for their papers from the parents of guardians in the caravan, and if they don’t have them they will be returned to Honduras. We have to protect the rights of children.”

Arriving in Guatemala chiefly via crossings on its northern border with Honduras, around 1,350 migrants had been registered entering legally by late morning, said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for Guatemala’s National Migration Institute.

The US has put Mexico and Central American nations under pressure to accept a series of migration agreements that aim to shift the burden of dealing with asylum-seekers on to them, and away from the United States.

Credit: Department of Homeland Security

Most attempts at forming caravans in 2019 were broken up by police and the national guard in Mexico, which has come under increased U.S. pressure to prevent migrants from arriving at the U.S. border.

The prospects for any kind of caravan like the one in 2018, which involved thousands of people, appear remote. Many of the migrants from the 2018 caravan applied for asylum, something that is now difficult or impossible.

The U.S. has used a carrot-and-stick approach in bilateral agreements struck since July with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to deny people an opportunity to apply for asylum in the U.S. They are instead to be sent to Central America with an opportunity to ask for protection there.

“The truth is, it is going to be impossible for them to reach the United States,” said human rights activist Itsmania Platero. “The Mexican police have a large contingent and they are going to catch all the migrants without documents and they will be detained and returned to their home countries.”