Hopeful, but also fearful, hundreds of migrants wait at the northern border of Mexico for the United States to open its doors for them from this Friday to attend to their asylum requests, as part of President Joe Biden’s new policy.
A Cuban, a Salvadoran and a Honduran tell . about their journey and waiting more than a year in Mexico to enter the United States to follow their procedures.
Cuban lawyer Joel Fernández, 52, had to travel eleven countries during 271 days to reach the city of Matamoros (Tamaulipas state) in January 2020.
« We are living a tragicomedy, a sad moment, a happy moment, » says Fernández, one of the 500 migrants of various nationalities sheltered in this camp to which Washington will give priority.
But the atmosphere on Thursday was tense. Since noon the place was closed in anticipation of being able to cross the border.
“Now is a sad moment because nobody knows anything. There is some tension here, the stress builds up. The colleagues say that I am already talking in my sleep!
He knows that they will be tested for Covid-19 and that there is an order to dismantle the camp, but he does not know when.
In the United States, a cousin is waiting for him and will leave him running a restaurant; his family remains in Cuba.
“I have resisted all the tests that God put me in this difficult journey, in all of them I knew how to get out alive. I want the award to come: have my residence, work, bring my wife, my children. «
Wisdom for Biden
In August 2019, a 37-year-old Salvadoran, a victim of domestic violence, took her four children and left her country for the United States. Arriving in Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua) meant a month of challenges and « a big fortune. »
He managed to step on American soil. « We crossed as‘ wet ’under the bridge, but after three days they returned to us, » recalls this woman who asks for anonymity for safety reasons.
Mexican migration and NGOs helped him find a shelter in this city. In December 2019, she had a hearing in a US court, before which she presented the threats that she claims she faces in El Salvador.
« But with Covid-19 and the policies of the other president (Donald Trump) it has been very slow, » he says with regret about the « Stay in Mexico » program that Biden is now dismantling.
His voice, however, is happy when talking about the new president.
“We ask God to give President Biden wisdom to help the migrant. The news is very encouraging, ”says this woman, whose dream is for her children to study.
“It is difficult to show up to your children and tell them that everything is going to be okay when you feel like the world is coming your way. We hope that this February 19 will be a balm for our pain ”.
Fight of heart
« I seek to safeguard my health, I have heart disease, » says José Madrid, a 40-year-old carpenter from Honduras who also waits in a shelter in Ciudad Juárez to return to the United States.
He had a taste of the « American dream » in 2014, after being hired by a company.
“I arrived by plane, I had a work visa, but I was exploited and I quit. I was illegal in several jobs, but my illness happened ”.
After undergoing heart surgery in 2017 thanks to the Medicaid program, he returned to employment. However, he was detained and handed over to immigration after a traffic accident. He was deported on August 3, 2018.
« In Honduras I relapsed, I knocked on doors and nobody helped me, the only way out was to leave. » In April 2019, penniless, he left for Mexico.
« I did not pay for the trip, God accompanied me and I arrived without a stumbling block on the way. »
In his asylum application, he argues that he requires medical attention that in Honduras they have denied him, but he faces rejection by US authorities and no migrant lawyer wants to take up his case.
« Some rudely tell me that I am wasting my time, but I have faith that there will be something for me in this new immigration program, » he maintains.