The Border Scene on Lockdown & Reasons Why People Migrate

By Emelina Rosa

The patio at the CAME migrant shelter in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.

HAVANA TIMES – The border between Mexico and the US has been closed to “nonessential” traffic and migrants who fall into the hands of the border patrol are being dumped back across the closest border without legal proceedings.

Agua Prieta is quiet, there is a dusk-to-dawn curfew and the municipality supports the shutdown. The long lines we used to see at the border crossing have vanished.

Eleven families from Guerrero, the southern Mexico state with extreme rates of violence, are living in limbo at the CAME migrant shelter in the Sagrada Familia Church, in the city’s oldest neighborhood about a mile from the border crossing. CAME was started twenty years ago in a church that had long been a sanctuary and refuge for the poor. At the time, most of the migrants were single men from Mexico looking for work in the US.

CAME had room for forty-four persons and an expansion was underway before the border shut down. For several years, until March, it was full of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., waiting to be allowed to cross the border to make the request.

On my last trip across the border, I met with Irasema, a woman from Acapulco who asked me to translate some documents for her asylum hearing, including a police report, medical reports for her and her daughter, a marriage license, and letters supporting her good character.

This is her story: She and her daughter left the house together one morning and were waiting at the bus stop. The daughter was studying hotel management at a local college and Irasema was going to the market. Suddenly a black truck, without plates, pulled up and two men armed with automatic pistols jumped out and stood in their way. One grabbed Irasema’s purse and the other her daughter’s backpack, and one began dragging her daughter towards the truck.

“You’re coming with me, sweetheart.” They screamed and resisted, and the street was crowded, so the guys took off, as the driver shouted, “I’ll come back for you, bitch.”

They did come back a week later, the women had stopped going out but they lived near the bus stop, and one night the guys parked out front, and shouted and kept shouting as the family cowered in the back of the house in the dark. The minute they drove away, Irasema and her husband fled for the border with the girl.

I have heard many variations of these events, they routinely involve the extortion of businesses, even small ones, and the kidnapping of girls and women. The poor, and more so women, have less to give up, but are easier targets.

Irasema and her husband were married in Agua Prieta, after thirty years together, to prove themselves a family to the US government. They were the last people to cross and formally solicit asylum through this port, in the middle of March. We have not heard from them since.


Emelina Rosa

Emelina Rosa is a long-time resident of the U.S.–Mexico border area who was volunteering until recently at the Migrant Resource Center and at CAME, the migrant shelter, both in Agua Prieta, Mexico, across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She is now home, following events as best she can.

One thought on “The Border Scene on Lockdown & Reasons Why People Migrate

  • Tens of thousands of people seek to cross the Mexico/US border. There are however some valid questions:
    Why if capitalism and the US in particular are so evil, do so many people wish to adopt it?
    Should all those who seek to enter be permitted to do so?
    If entering illegally, should they instantly be able to access such things as unemployment benefit?
    Should the US be able to refuse entry?
    If entering illegally, should the US be able subsequently to deport them?
    Those are but a few of quite reasonable questions.
    Asking those questions does not imply a lack of sympathy for the plight of those fleeing from their homelands,

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