Published on: Amended:
El Ceibo (Guatemala) (AFP)
Haydi Consuelo believed she had arrived in the Promised Land when she crossed the US-Mexico border in Texas with her two-year-old son and other migrants from Central America.
She thought she would be accommodated, but instead she was put on a plane and sent back to Mexico, where she was taken on a bus and driven to Guatemala without ever passing through a migration checkpoint.
“It was a ruse because we were given the impression that we were going to be able to pass. And, suddenly … near the Mexican border, some 550 kilometers (340 miles) from Guatemala City.
Mexico is using this deserted border area to return migrants who have been deported to its territory from the United States.
Aid organizations helping these migrants say as many as 600 migrants a day are brought in from Mexico through the unguarded passage.
The missionaries who run the House of Migrants in El Ceibo are struggling to cope with the sudden influx.
In order to make room for new arrivals, migrants are allowed to spend a single night in the courtyard, surrounded by their suitcases, backpacks and shoes.
– ‘Perverse strategy’ –
“Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans are coming back. There is a perverse strategy of hiding population groups, because we noticed that first the Guatemalans were brought in and then in the last buses came Hondurans and Nicaraguans” , Leonel Dubon, executive director of the NGO Refugio, told AFP.
“It appears to be bad faith on the part of the Mexican government.”
In El Ceibo, there is no migration infrastructure or health measures to test new arrivals for Covid-19.
“The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry has requested official information from Mexico and the United States on these migratory movements,” said the government of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, taken by surprise.
The government said it had two authorized deportation centers: one at the capital’s international airport and another at a land border in Tecun Uman, some 300 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City.
The migrant crisis in Central America has worsened due to the increase in unemployment triggered by the pandemic.
After former President Donald Trump’s intransigent immigration policies, Central Americans were hoping for easing under Joe Biden’s administration, but he sent a clear message to “stay away.”
– Ready to try again –
Honduran teacher Gloria Amador Gutierrez, 32, left on July 30 with a group of around 20 land migrants heading to the United States. On August 19, she was deported to Guatemala.
Among the expelled, there are “also lawyers, graduates. There is no work and we have decided to fight for our children and to give them a better education by going abroad”, declared Gutierrez, who vowed to regroup in Honduras before trying again.
“We have family members in the United States still waiting for us.”
âEverything was going well when we got to Guatemala, but it was a different story when we got to Mexico,â said Onan Gutierrez, 32, a cousin of Gloria who was traveling with her daughter.
“It’s really not easy to pursue the American dream. We were within 15 minutes of reaching our goal but they caught us off guard,” he added, saying he was not sure. be able to try again.
Guatemalan farmer Jose Jimenez entered the United States with his son, but was arrested and deported.
“The coyotes tell you the passage to the United States is open and all they do is demand money to cross the river to the United States while threatening to kill you,” said Jimenez.
“If you don’t pay, they’ll turn you over to the Mafia and the deal is done.”
He won’t try any more.
“It’s hard, we all suffer, especially the children,” he said.
Â© 2021 AFP