2021-09-25 06:02:26 Immigrants Who Escaped The Texas Crackdown Feel Trapped In Mexico
Immigrants Who Escaped The Texas Crackdown Feel Trapped In Mexico
The 35-year-old father weighed his options: return to the United States, where he could be deported to Haiti, or remain in Mexico as authorities closed in on him and other immigrants.
Wood, who refused to give his full name for fear of retaliation from the United States or Mexico for speaking out, said he didn’t have a plan but needed to make one if he was to care for his wife and two daughters.
Wood told BuzzFeed News, “I’d like to stay here in Mexico, but I’m scared because I don’t have permission to be here.” “However, the US may deport us. I’m at a loss for what to do.”
The walls are closing in on them again, this time from the Mexican side of the border, as hundreds of immigrants fled the camp in Del Rio, Texas, this week in an attempt to avoid being flown to Haiti. Immigration agents, backed up by armed soldiers and police officers, carried out day and nighttime raids on the streets of Ciudad Acua, detaining and transporting immigrants to southern Mexican states. For days, immigrants have been crossing the perilous Rio Grande, moving to whichever side of the border appears friendliest.
Mexican immigration agents drove into the camp before dawn on Thursday, flanked by local police and the National Guard. The immigrants, the majority of whom were Haitians, who had been sleeping in a park in Ciudad Acua were startled awake. The presence of Mexican authorities was enough to frighten some of them back to the US side of the border, which they had previously abandoned after the Biden administration began sending hundreds of immigrants back to Haiti. Although no one was detained in the park, the threat loomed.
The Biden administration has relocated thousands of immigrants from the Del Rio area to other parts of the border, where they will be processed or deported. It has relied heavily on Title 42 policy, which cites the pandemic as a reason for allowing border agents to quickly turn back asylum-seekers, to clear the Del Rio camp of thousands of Haitians. In just a few days, the United States flew nearly 2,000 immigrants back to Haiti. More flights were expected to arrive in the country on Friday, which has been hit hard by an earthquake and a presidential assassination.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Friday that the camp beneath the Del Rio International Bridge had been cleared and that no migrants remained. Mayorkas estimated that nearly 30,000 immigrants had been encountered in Del Rio since September 9. Another 8,000 had voluntarily returned to Mexico, and 5,000 more were awaiting processing, which means they will either be expelled or allowed to remain in the country.
Mayorkas went on to say that over 12,000 immigrants who had entered the United States would have their cases heard.
He insisted that the use of Title 42 was required due to the pandemic and was not an immigration policy. He also mentioned that the policy permitted exceptions.
On Thursday, a Mexican immigration agent who only gave his last name, Rodriguez, to BuzzFeed News, said they arrived at the park in Ciudad Acua before dawn and frightened immigrants awake because the US was conducting an operation in Del Rio and they were worried people would drown trying to get back into Mexico.
However, their presence in the early morning hours had the opposite effect on some immigrants who had waded across the Rio Grande to return to Del Rio, Texas. Mexican authorities quickly cut the yellow rope that immigrants had used to cross the river.
Although many Haitians left their homes after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake to go to Brazil or Chile, immigration policies in those countries have become more restrictive in the last five years, according to a 2021 report on Haitian women’s migration. According to the report, which was published by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, tighter restrictions drove many Haitians to Mexico.
Wood, whose 12-year-old daughter fainted from dehydration last week at the Del Rio camp, was one of them.
“If you go out onto the streets of Haiti, you have to pray to come back,” he said.
Wood moved to Chile with his family to try to make a living, but without legal status, it was difficult to find a well-paying job.
He has considered returning to Chile, but doing so would require him to travel through the Darién Gap, a jungle described by UNICEF as one of the world’s most dangerous routes. It was the most difficult part of the journey up to the US–Mexico border, according to Wood, who added that criminals rob immigrants and rape women in the area.
“It’s something you cross once in your life, not twice,” he explained.
Rodriguez, the immigration agent, stood in the camp Wood had been sleeping in with his family and said authorities had set up a shelter in Ciudad Acua for those who wanted to leave the park where they had been camping. He also stated that the immigrants could continue their refugee application process with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance, but they would have to do so in the city of Tapachula in the Mexican state of Chiapas in the south.
Tapachula, on the other hand, is a prison city for immigrants who do not have the necessary documentation to leave the state or work authorization. They will face National Guard troops if they attempt to flee without paying smugglers thousands of dollars. For years, there have also been violent clashes between immigrants attempting to flee and Mexican authorities, who are under pressure from US officials to keep them from heading north. Mexican officials condemned the “inappropriate” actions of their agents last month after they clashed violently with immigrants in Tapachula.
When Rodriguez informed a group of immigrants that they would have to return to Tapachula to finish their refugee process, they collectively groaned and protested, knowing what awaited them there.
Diana, 30, of Colombia, said she tried selling water in Tapachula to cover her $200 rent, but it was difficult. It takes months to complete the refugee process, and during that time, they must find a way to make a living without work authorization, she explained.
“How do you expect us to survive?” Diana enquired of Rodriguez. “We have nothing, and then we try to leave and the National Guard beats us up.”