MATAMOROS (MEXICO), Sep 15 (Reuters / EP) –
The latest changes in US immigration policy have caused more than 42,000 people – mostly from Central America – to have to live in border cities like Matamoros.
This is the case of a young Honduran couple who had to travel thousands of kilometers from the port city of La Ceiba and overcome numerous obstacles, to reach the Texas border to apply for asylum.
However, this couple is part of the 42,000 asylum seekers who have been sent – since January – to different border cities to await hearings in the United States as part of a US program known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, for its acronym in English).
These two young men fear that a ruling by the United States Supreme Court – which would allow anyone passing through a country, including Mexico, to apply for asylum there instead of in the US nation – derails their plans and those of thousands of others. Central American migrants escaping violence and poverty.
So Dexy Maldonado, 20, and Marvin Madrid, 28, have decided to marry next to the Rio Grande, in an impromptu religious ceremony, and without registering the wedding before a government.
“The pastor told us that it was not 'legal, legal', but that getting married would be to serve God to be together,” Maldonado said, explaining that in July the US immigration agents separated her from her partner before Send them to Mexico.
In July, the Trump Administration extended the MPP to Matamoros, one of the two receiving cities in Tamaulipas, an eastern state so subdued by drug cartels that the State Department classifies it as a “level 4” danger zone to the couple from Afghanistan or Somalia. “It's a disaster,” said Jennifer Harbury, an immigration lawyer in Texas. “Nobody knows what will happen with the MPP.”
The ruling of the Supreme Court has caused asylum seekers to be even more worried, as they are caught between two worlds in a city where the unemployment rate is quite high and where the presence of criminal gangs threatens their security.
On the other hand, there is the rush to get married. Maldonado and Madrid has been the first of seven asylum-seeking couples who have married in this camp. The Reverend Isaac Collins of Charlottesville, Virginia, officiated the brief but emotional ceremony.
The newly married couple left Honduras after they both lost their jobs. Both have explained that they left from their city with a small group led by a self-proclaimed “guide”, who did not ask for money to take them through Mexico.
However, as they approached Reynosa, a city west of Matamoros, a man apparently known to the guide took them off a bus and took them to a place where dozens of people were “forcibly detained,” The couple specified.
Still they managed to escape, cross the Rio Grande and surrender to the US authorities. A document from the Department of Homeland Security to which the Reuters news agency has had access shows that Maldonado was “a candidate to be transferred” and is called to appear on September 30.
“They told us that the rules had changed three days before, so they sent us back here,” Maldonado added. Even before the MPP expanded to Tamaulipas, the organization in defense of Human Rights Human Rights documented more than one hundred cases of rape, kidnapping and sexual exploitation against asylum seekers who returned to Mexico under the program.
Last October, thousands of Central Americans began marching in a caravan to the United States through Mexico to escape violence and poverty in the so-called Northern Triangle, formed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Since then, the migratory flow has reduced but has not stopped.
The Donald Trump Administration threatened the neighboring country with a tariff if it did not stop illegal immigration, which resulted in an agreement by Mexico has deployed the National Guard on the border with Guatemala and has agreed to host Central American migrants until have their asylum processes resolved in the United States