Policy changes help push the crossroads of U.S. immigrants to new heights

Brownsville, Texas (AP) — Paying a smuggler, Edgarmehia could afford to take only one child to the United States with him. He chose the son of a 3-year-old “warrior” and left children aged 7 and 12 in Honduras with his mother.

“Unfortunately, I got here using him like a passport,” said Media last week at a bus stop in Brownsville, Texas, receiving milk from a volunteer and on the final journey to join her relatives in Atlanta. It was. “I am here thanks to him.”

Messiah, 32, and his son, who paid $ 6,000 to smugglers for a “new dream” that Honduras couldn’t offer, are almost one of the border guards. 170,000 encounters In March, there were immigrants on the US-Mexico border, hitting a 20-year high.The total announced on Thursday is almost 19,000 children traveling alone, The highest number of months ever.

About four-tenths of last month’s border encounters were with families and unaccompanied children (many from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). This shows that Central America’s asylum seekers have risen third in seven years.

For decades, many have returned for visits, mainly until Mexican men illegally crossed the border and border security was strengthened to make it more difficult to come and go. Migrations increased or decreased, but were fairly stable and predictable.

Over the last decade, a complex combination of factors has resulted in regular and dramatic spikes that require more legal protection and more care, especially among families and children. .. Government Accountability Office We have identified 10 potential causes of the surge in the number of unaccompanied children at the border in 2014, including poverty, violence, and awareness of US immigration policy.

The significant increase in family arrivals in 2019 is after the end of the Trump administration’s practice of generally separating parents from their children at the border. The latest jump follows a fierce storm in Central America and President Joe Biden’s end to his predecessor’s hard-line immigration policy, but many changes due to Biden are rumored or business. Created by smugglers to produce.

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities in Rio Grande Valley, Texas, said the “root cause” that prompted Central Americans to leave has not changed. About 1,000 people in 2019.

“I think traffickers just use whatever is happening in the United States to incite and seduce their families and create the story” Come Now. ” The president will let you in, “she said.

Immigrants said in dozens of interviews over the past two weeks that the situation in Central America generally led them to the United States. When asked about Biden, almost everyone said his relatively supportive position for immigrants influenced their thinking.

Smuggling rates vary widely, with some paying up to $ 10,000 per person in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor of illegal crossings. Often there are discounts for additional relatives. Traveling by car, bus or truck can take weeks and ends when an inflatable raft arrives on the banks of the Rio Grande and families and children leave themselves to border guard agents. ..

Mezia said he and his son belonged to a group of 18 Honduran on a four-part trip. When the trailer came to the military checkpoint, the children were told to be quiet.

“[Smugglers]say it works, but the reality is different,” Mezia turned to her three-year-old son at a bus stop in Brownsville, the border city of Rio Grande. “There is a warrior here. We suffered a lot.”

Douglas Perez, 24, said he stood on a covered pickup truck with 10 people, including his wife and two children aged 4 and 1. They were released in the United States and notified to report to the US Immigration Bureau.

Perez, who paid a smuggler $ 27,000 to take his family to the United States, said he left the western highlands of Guatemala because the corn-picking job no longer provided enough food to eat.

Carlos Enrique Linga, freed from detention with her five-year-old daughter, said she couldn’t afford new clothes for her Guatemalan family after the rain destroyed her home. It urged him to try to join a friend in Tennessee to make money. His wife, two-year-old twins, and a newborn stayed in Guatemala because they couldn’t pay the smuggler.

“Our house has flowed and we’re crazy about the water,” Linga said after breakfast at an immigration shelter in Mission, Texas. “Our ranch is gone. We don’t have a house.”

The border guard had 168,195 encounters with immigrants last month, the highest since March 2001. The numbers cannot be compared directly, as more than half of those who stopped last month were quickly expelled from the country under federal pandemic-related powers to deny people. The right to seek asylum.Expulsion has no legal impact, so many people Try multiple times.

Biden exempted unaccompanied children from dropout and allowed them to stay in the United States in pursuit of asylum applications and live with “sponsors,” usually parents or close relatives.

Mexico was reluctant to regain a Central American family with young children, especially in Tamaulipas, which borders the Rio Grande Valley. As a result, many of them have been released in the United States while their claims are being considered by immigration authorities.

Immigrants entering the Rio Grande Valley as single adults or with families with children over the age of 7 are banished to Reynosa, the hub of organized crime. Unfounded rumors are rampant in the square where immigrants are planning their next move. Rumors spread last week that the United States would open its border on April 5, or Biden’s first 100-day border.

Hermelindo Ak, a corn grower, heard in Guatemala that the opportunity was good for the family, but did not know how the age of the child was considered. He said the information seemed to change “every day.”

He was banished with his 17-year-old son and sent him alone for a second attempt after learning that an unaccompanied child could stay in the United States. They couldn’t afford to pay the smugglers.