This week, hundreds of Central American migrants were expelled by the United States from flights deep into Mexico. Many families had young children.
They arrive in Guatemala carrying their children and their possessions in plastic bags. That is partly the point. This new U.S. measure is intended to discourage them from trying again to cross the U.S. border.
They find nothing more in El Ceibo than roadside restaurants, small shelters and 100-degree heat. Many of them are not Guatemalan. There are Hondurans as well as Salvadorans. If they have the money, some walk south and hitchhike or look for a bus. The nearest small community is approximately 11 miles (18 km) away. Between them is jungle that is interrupted only by ranchland. Others claim they will travel north again
Andres Toribio runs El Ceibo’s Bethlehem Migrant Shelter. “What we’ve witnessed here is the suffering these people,” he said. They don’t know where they are being taken. They don’t even know what Peten looks like. It covers a vast area. Many people think they can be in a city within 20 minutes. But Santa Elena is closer and is 108 miles away.
According to him, his shelter has been stretched since the U.S. began the flights. This is in addition to the regular deportations by Mexican authorities. In the last eight days, he estimated that he saw 4,000 migrants from Mexico expelled here.
“We can accommodate 30 people.” He said that 100 migrants were received yesterday. “We are referring to those that Mexico’s immigration expels as well as the ones they send on (U.S.), flights every day. There were approximately 500 migrants who left here at the border.”
He said that most of them were children and women. He said, “We know that women and children in these situations are victims of all types of abuse in street.” Human traffickers were also present to give migrants false information in order to prevent them from seeking help.
Expelled migrants don’t know where to go when they board their flight in Brownsville, Texas. Some people think California, while others go back to their home countries. Some claimed that authorities told them they would return to their home countries if they got off the Mexican bus.
U.S. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained that the new measure is designed to make it more difficult for migrants who have been expelled due to pandemic-related restrictions, which prohibit them from seeking asylum and returning to the U.S. border. Interviewees this week stated that they weren’t asked by U.S. and Mexican authorities if protection was needed.
Although the U.S. has flown Mexican migrants into Mexico in the past to discourage them from entering the U.S. again. This is the first time that the U.S. is flying Central Americans into southern Mexican cities such as Villahermosa or Tapachula.
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According to a U.S. official, the administration will begin the flights 24 times per month with the hope of increasing the frequency. Mexico supported the effort despite tensions between the administrations and Central American governments, and their refusal to accept any more direct deportation flights from America.
Maritza Tepata, her children aged 3 and 8, arrived in El Ceibo Wednesday. They had started the day in Brownsville. She was in El Ceibo Friday with a Nicaraguan immigrant, and she worked in a restaurant, cleaning floors, dishwashing, and waiting for customers. She was paid food, but she did not receive any other compensation.