Migrants stranded in Juárez spend Christmas in local shelters

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Dec 25 (EFE). – In the midst of an unprecedented migratory wave, migrants stranded in Ciudad Juárez, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, are spending Christmas in shelters waiting for what would be their greatest gift: to enter the United States.

Yesenia Roa Romero, a Venezuelan staying at El Buen Samaritano shelter, told EFE that she had already received a great Christmas gift in advance, since on Dec. 7 she was notified of her appointment with the US immigration system for Dec. 27.

However, she will spend Christmas, away from her family, in a shelter with other migrants who share her situation.

“It is very difficult to spend these holidays away from the children, away from the family, but we hold on to God’s hand, which is the one that gives us strength, and here in the shelter we are all really a family,” Yesenia said.

She says the only thing she will miss this Christmas Eve are the traditional Venezuelan Christmas dishes like ham bread and hallacas, the Venezuelan version of a tamale made with cornmeal dough, meat, raisins, capers, and olives, a classic of all-night gatherings at grandma’s house.

Pastor Juan Fierro, director of the Good Samaritan shelter, where Yesenia is staying, says there are fewer migrants this year, but just like every Christmas, they prepared gifts for children and adults, Chinese food, tamales, and a movie after dinner.

“We know that there are many migrants who are not in the shelters, there are many who are on the streets, we also know of those who come on the train and get off and walk and turn themselves in and go to a detention center and a trial… well, I just ask God to help them,” the pastor says.

Fierro says the shelters are between 40 and 50 percent full as migrants go directly from the train to Gate 36 of the Juárez-El Paso border, where they cross to begin their immigration process.

This year, migration through Ciudad Juárez has broken all records. Social organizations say that this year more than 100,000 migrants from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, and even from African countries crossed in this area.

Leticia Villalobos, a Mexican migrant from the state of Michoacán, will also be spending Christmas at the Good Samaritan.

She says the children and adults received some gifts for Christmas, which is a way to ease the sadness of not being with the whole family.

“It’s sad to be away from my family, my daughter and my husband, it’s the worst thing that could happen to me. My family is in Michoacán and my husband and my daughter are in the United States,” she explains.

She says that in the shelter they live together as a family, even though they are of different nationalities and beliefs.

“Here I will spend it with the other migrants. I feel sad because I have to wait, I have never been separated from my family… to be with my husband and my daughter, is all I ask, nothing more,” she says.

“I see in them this longing, this desire to be with their loved ones, and in some way there is a separation, but we want them to trust in the Lord Jesus and that in their time they will be able to be with their loved ones,” says Juan Fierro, who points out that at least during these holidays, everyone joins their families, if only for a moment, through video calls. EFE


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