By Guadalupe Peñuelas
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- Thousands of undocumented Central American migrants duped by human smugglers into believing they would have a relatively obstacle-free path to the United States now find themselves stranded at overcrowded facilities in this northwestern border city and hoping for a miracle.
Shelters in Ciudad Juarez are struggling to find space for the roughly 1,500 migrants – mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – who have arrived in large numbers in recent weeks due to false promises about supposedly less restrictive US policies under new President Joe Biden.
One of these increasingly desperate migrants is 30-year-old Honduran Cristian Alexis, who paid a migrant smuggler (coyote) $7,000 to lead him and his five-year-old son across the border but is now seeing his hopes for a better future vanish before his eyes.
“They told us they’d open the border on (March) 21st, and they lied to us. I’ve been here for seven days with the help of two good Mexican people who put me up in their house with my five-year-old son. I work with them and I have a roof and food,” he told Efe.
Cristian can’t stop thinking about the $7,000 he paid, realizing with hindsight he could have used that money to help his family.
“I’ll wait here two months to see what they tell us. If I can’t cross (the border), I’ll go back to Honduras because my wife and another son are there,” he said pessimistically.
“I’d tell the people of Honduras not to leave. There’s no way to get to the United States,” Cristian added, recalling that Central Americans have been misled into believing Biden’s administration would facilitate the cross-border flow of migrants into the US.
Biden’s pledge to adopt more humane immigration policies – particularly the decision to end his predecessor’s “Remain in Mexico” program (under which certain non-Mexican migrants had to wait in Mexico pending resolution of their US asylum claims) – has triggered the arrival of thousands of impoverished, asylum-seeking migrants.
One of these individuals is Pedro Vazquez, a 35-year-old Honduran who left his homeland due to extreme poverty and illegally crossed the border into southern Texas from the northeastern Mexican border city of Reynosa.
Vazquez says he feels deceived by the smugglers who dumped him on the other side of the border, where he was detained and deported by US immigration authorities and later ended up in Ciudad Juarez.
“I trust in God that I’ll be able to reach my home in Santa Fe, Honduras,” a teary-eyed Vazquez, who now is trying to come up with the money for his return trip, told Efe.
Father Javier Calvillo, a priest and director of the Casa del Migrante shelter in Ciudad Juarez, urged those Central American migrants thinking about illegally crossing the US-Mexico border to weigh their decision carefully and warned them they could put their well-being and that of their family at risk.
“It’s important for migrants to consider other options. If what they want is to leave their country, they can find in Mexico a place to live,” he said. EPA-EFE