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Crisis on the US border: endless despair

Reportage

Status: 03/27/2021 3:15 a.m.

The situation on the US-Mexico border is getting worse. To ease the situation in the north, Mexico has again strengthened its southern border with 8,700 national guardsmen. But that’s not enough for US President Biden.

From Anne Demmer,
ARD studio Mexico City

A Mexican officer guides around 15 migrants through a narrow corridor at the border post in Ciudad Juárez. The group runs after him in silence. Despair, fear and frustration can be seen on their faces. Tears roll down a woman’s face. The group walks through an iron door, where their dream of a new beginning in the USA ends.

Anne Demmer

A young migrant woman is holding her little daughter by the hand, behind her is her husband with a small backpack on his back. “You haven’t told us why we have to go back. What should we do now?”

Inns am Limit

The family disappears behind the door, where they are met by employees of the Mexican authorities. Many are completely disoriented when they arrive in Mexico, says Hugo. He and his colleagues help the migrants to get a place in one of the surrounding hostels.

These days, between 120 and 160 migrants are being sent back to Mexico from the USA every day. We work with the various agencies at the state and local level. We provide humanitarian aid with the support of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The hostels are already at their limit. In pandemic times, they have only limited capacity anyway, so that the hygiene and distance rules can be adhered to.

Reality different than expected

In a migrant hostel not far from the border post, that hardly seems possible. Around 170 people, mainly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, live here in a shabby house. They are fleeing poverty, the violence of the youth gangs and the aftermath of two hurricanes last year.

Maria just wants to leave Ciudad Juarez. The 42-year-old Guatemalan arrived at the border with her nine-year-old daughter two weeks ago and found a completely different reality than she had expected.

We want to go over now. We ask the President to finally let us through. We have suffered enough already. I was told that the US President lets people through in his first 100 days. But all of this is a lie. They only let unaccompanied minors through, but why not us? We have children too. How should I feed my daughter in Guatemala? In my homeland, women like me are threatened, I have no money.

Biden’s assumption of office gave hope to many migrants

With the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden, many migrants have found new hope – after he had announced a more humanitarian course. Smugglers are fueling this hope, promising an “open border”. But the opposite is the case. Biden had reversed the program launched by former US President Donald Trump: “Remain in Mexico”.

Accordingly, the migrants who have applied for asylum in the USA no longer have to wait for their trial in Mexico, as Trump had initiated. However, a regulation remains in force: Just like his predecessor, Biden reserves the right to deport migrants who cross the border without papers in the shortest possible time, explains lawyer Rocío Mélendez.

The regulation of the so-called Title 42 still applies, i.e. immediate expulsion for reasons of protection against the pandemic. Individuals who have entered the United States without an inspection and cannot provide evidence of documented residency in the country may be returned immediately under this arrangement.

In this situation, they do not get the opportunity to apply for asylum either. The lawyer has a lot to do these days. She wants to counter the rumors that are circulating among the migrants. It clears up, provides them with information.

Endless dangers

Out of desperation, parents sent their children, twelve or even eight years old, across the border alone so that they could come to the USA and find shelter with relatives there, the lawyer reports. Because they are allowed to stay. In general, the migrants expose themselves to great dangers. A nine-year-old child was killed trying to cross a river border with the United States.

Basilia felt firsthand how dangerous the route north is, the situation at the border. The 34-year-old also comes from Guatemala. Your daughter was kidnapped in Mexico.

I’ll go crazy. Once I got a sign of life. My daughter called. She said the men issued her with false papers. I went to the authorities who said there was nothing they could do for me. I tried again today.

Basilia doesn’t think she’ll make it over to the US. She would actually be ready to go back to Guatemala. Without her daughter, however, it would be inconceivable.

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