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New York Times

“Mom, bad news”: Mexico could be the end of the road for child immigrants

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico — Children rolled off a white van, were vaguely tired, and rubbed their eyes to sleep. On their way north, they wanted to travel without their parents and cross the border to America. They never achieved it. Signing up for a morning newsletter from the New York Times detained by a Mexican immigration officer, they were taken to a shelter for unaccompanied minors at Ciudad Juárez and marched in line. , Lined up on the wall for processing. For them, about a mile from the border, this facility is the closest they can reach the United States. “‘Mom, I have bad news for you,'” recalled one of the shelter girls, Elizabeth, 13, of Honduras, telling her mother over the phone. “‘Don’t cry, but Mexican immigrants caught me.'” Children are part of a growing wave of immigrants hoping to find a way to the United States. If they succeed across borders, they can present their case to US authorities, go to school, find a job someday, and help relatives go home. Some people can reunite with their parents waiting there. But for those caught before crossing the border, the long north road ends in Mexico. If they come from elsewhere in the country, they can be picked up by relatives and taken home, as they are increasing due to the financial sacrifice of the pandemic. However, most of them are from Central America and are driven north by poverty, violence, natural disasters and pandemic-unsustainable lives, and the Biden administration takes a more generous approach to immigrants. Encouraged by promise. They are shelters in Mexico, often waiting for months to make arrangements. After that, they are deported. Traveling north is not an easy task, and children who bravely confront it must grow fast. Most shelters are teenagers, but some are as young as five. Traveling alone without parents, in groups of children, or with relatives or family friends, you may encounter a criminal network that often uses immigrants. , And to the border guards who decided to stop them. But they continue to challenge thousands. José Alfredo Villa, director of the Nohemi Alvarez Kiraya Shelter for unaccompanied minors in Ciudad Juárez, said: In 2018, 1,318 children were placed in unaccompanied minor shelters at Ciudad Juárez, according to local governments. By 2019, hospitalizations had increased to 1,510, but last year they fell to 928 due to a pandemic. But in the first two and a half months of the year, that number surged to 572. This is well above the record high of 2019 if continued for the rest of the year. When children enter the shelter, school education ceases and staff are unable to offer classes to a large number of children from different countries and different educational backgrounds. Instead, children spend their days in art classes. There, they often draw and draw pictures of their home country. They watch TV, play in the courtyard, and do chores like laundry to help manage the shelter. The Ciudad Juárez scene across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas tells just a small part of the larger story that unfolds about 2,000 miles along the border. Elizabeth, a 13-year-old from Villanueva, Honduras, said she thought about how disappointed she was with her Maryland mother when Mexican authorities detained her in early March. Elizabeth said her mother was initially ecstatic when she called from the shelter, thinking she had crossed. Then, when she heard the news, her mother suddenly wept. “I told her not to cry,” Elizabeth said. “We will meet each other again.” The New York Times agreed to protect their identities using the middle names of all unaccompanied minors interviewed. An overview of their family situation and their case was confirmed by shelter caseworkers who contacted their relatives and authorities in their country and arranged for their deportation. If Elizabeth had crossed the river to Texas, her life would be different. Even if she was arrested by the US Customs and Border Protection, she would have been released by her mother and given the date of the court to file an asylum case. The success of her asylum application will not be given. In 2019, 71% of all cases involving unaccompanied minors resulted in deportation orders. However, many do not attend public hearings. They slip into the population to fend off authority and lead a life of avoidance. For the majority of children in shelters, being caught in Mexico means only one thing: the deportation of Central America to their homeland. According to shelter director Villa, about 460 children were deported from Juarez’s shelter in the first three months of the year. And they often wait months, he said, as Mexican authorities struggle routinely to get the cooperation of Central American countries to coordinate deportation. Elizabeth does not know who will take care of her if sent back to Honduras. When she was born, her father went out over the family, she said, and the grandmother she lived with is dying. When Elizabeth’s mother left in 2017, she said it broke her. The mother had a loan to support Elizabeth. When Loan Shark came in after her family asked for repayment, she went to the United States to look for a job, Elizabeth said. “When my mother left, I felt my heart, my soul, gone,” she said in tears. Elizabeth’s mother wanted to do a good job in Maryland’s landscaping and escape her daughter’s dangerous journey to the United States. But when grandmother’s health couldn’t take care of Elizabeth for her, it was the girl’s turn to say goodbye. Elizabeth said she was wondering if she could see her grandmother again. In early March, Elizabeth arrived on the Rio Grande River on the northern border of Mexico. She began walking towards Texas when local authorities caught her and pulled her out of the water. The Mexican Immigration Bureau has dropped her to the NohemíÁlvarez Quilay shelter, named after an Ecuadorian girl who committed suicide after being detained in another shelter in Juarez in 2014. She was 12 years old and was in the process of reuniting with her parents who had lived in New York City since childhood. In mid-March, two weeks after arrival, Elizabeth celebrated her 13th birthday at the shelter. When shelter staff cut cakes for Elizabeth — children were barred from handling sharp objects — just hours after the eight arrived that morning, three more children were immigrated. It was taken down by the station. They watched the cartoon while waiting for the shelter staff to register the cartoon. Juliana, 15, who has been her best friend since Elizabeth’s arrival, was arrested by Mexican authorities in December and took her two-year-old cousin to pull her four-year-old cousin to cross the border. .. Juliana is from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, one of the most violent cities in the world. Both girls said they saw parents struggling to put food on the table before making the tough decision to move to the United States. And they felt that their non-intersection overturned their tremendous expectations of reuniting with their lonely parents, working, and sending money to their left-behind families. For girls, home is not a place — Honduras or the United States. The house is where their family is. That’s where they want to be. “My dream is to go ahead and raise a family,” Juliana said. “Helping my mother and siblings is the first thing. My family.” The day she left San Pedro Sula to join her Florida father, she said, her mother promised her one thing. did. “She asked me to never forget her,” Juliana said. “And I said I could never because I was leaving for her.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company