Migrants who thought they could stay in U.S. ‘if we came with our kids’ filling up Mexico’s shelters

Migrants who thought they could stay in U.S. ‘if we came with our kids’ filling up Mexico’s shelters
Temporary shelters on Mexican border, ca. 2019 (Image: YouTube screen grab)

By Kaylee Greenlee

Most migrants who illegally cross into the U.S. are rapidly expelled to Mexico where officials have been prepared to care for them, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Mexican officials didn’t have a plan to provide federal assistance to migrants expelled from the U.S. and instead contracted already overwhelmed private companies and charity organizations. Mexican shelters are operating at reduced capacity in response to COVID-19, while groups providing food and medical services struggle to meet the migrant’s needs.

“I heard people could stay in America if we came with our children,” Juana Cruz Funez, 40, said after U.S. border officials expelled her and her 8-year-old daughter Itzy to Reynosa, Mexico. Cruz and her daughter joined hundreds of other migrants at a makeshift camp at a public square in the Mexican town south of Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

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The Biden administration’s relaxed border policies and a belief that some families would be allowed to stay in the U.S. pushed migrants to make the journey, Mexican officials said. However, the administration has relied on a Trump-era public health order to expel most migrants due to COVID-19.

“The Mexican government does nothing for these needy people,” said Jonathan Hernández, who handed out food to migrants expelled to Reynosa, Mexico. “And the president of Mexico is never going to tell the most powerful country on Earth, ‘No, we won’t take them back.’ 

The Mexican government provides little assistance to migrants, and it’s only worsened since more people are moving through the country.

“Mexico has neither applied the resources or shown the will to deal with this,” Save the Children Mexico coordinator Jorge Vidal Arnaud told reporters. “The situation for migrant families and minors in Mexico is very grave.”

The problems persist through Mexico along the routes migrants take from Guatemala in hopes of reaching the U.S. (RELATED: Biden Admin Diverts $2 Billion From Healthcare Programs To Help Illegal Migrant Children)

The Mexican government “is leaving these people alone, without help, and is also leaving us alone with this responsibility,” said Fray Gabriel Romero, who oversees a Catholic shelter in a Mexican town near the Guatemalan border.

Mexican officials have acknowledged the government’s inability to care for the influx of migrants. The government expects to open 17 new facilities to host migrant families and children in southern Mexico.

“We have to create the infrastructure for this,” Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said. “The children crossing our territory are our responsibility. … We have to protect them.”

A Mexican law that went into effect in January prohibits migrant minors from staying in run-down immigration jails despite other government facilities for children being full.

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