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‘I had no choice’: why millions are leaving everything behind to seek refuge in the US | Immigration to the United States | Pro IQRA News

‘I had no choice’: why millions are leaving everything behind to seek refuge in the US |  Immigration to the United States

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

YuS’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorcas, has a message for immigrants that he is repeating loudly and repeatedly: “Our borders are not open… Do not risk your life and your savings” to come to the US to seek asylum without an invitation.

But for millions, hunger, violence and fear are heard louder. Political dysfunction and economic disaster are driving people from many countries in the Western Hemisphere in what US President Joe Biden has called “the largest migration in human history,” which has been exacerbated in Latin America and beyond by the coronavirus pandemic.

People with determination but few means make a hopeful journey across the land toward the US-Mexico border. If they overcome the odds to reach American soil, they may find refuge – or more heartbreak.

Ysa Ortega choked when she spoke to the Guardian at a shelter in El Paso, West Texas earlier this month, telling the story of the journey she and her husband, Rafael López, and their five-year-old son, Matias, have taken for six months.

Ortega, 24, said the family had reached a turning point in their native Venezuela and followed more than 7 million other citizens who fled the country’s economic collapse and pervasive hunger when their choice came down to food or clothing.

“We had no choice. “We need to take a chance,” she said. Like nearly a third of this exodus, they first tried neighboring Colombia, itself precarious and contributing amid post-pandemic hardships to the recent uptick in migration toward the United States.

Ysa Ortega, 24, her husband, Rafael Lopez, and their five-year-old son, Matias
Ysa Ortega, 24, with her husband, Rafael Lopez, and their five-year-old son, Matias. They fled Venezuela during the province’s economic collapse and rampant hunger. Photograph: Lorena Figueroa/The Guardian

Ortega found work in a restaurant kitchen and Lopez worked in a plastics factory in Medellín. But they were paid less, as immigrants, about $35 per week between them, when a liter of basic foodstuffs like milk was $3 per liter and rent, she said.

When they failed to obtain legal status and could not access the health care system or school for Matias, like many others, they left Colombia for the United States.

They escaped the rigors and dangers of trekking through the infernal jungle of Darien Gap to Panama and walked through Central America and Mexico, fraught with perils, especially for foreigners as equal immigrants.

Ortega said the family did not use people smugglers. She recounted how, along the way, they had twice been robbed at gunpoint, slept in pouring rain and endured cold nights, hopped on freight trains when they could, worked temporary jobs, and begged for money for food, water, and bus tickets to relieve themselves. excursion whenever possible.

Eventually, they reached Ciudad Juárez across the Mexican border from El Paso. After all that, Mathias broke his right arm while playing. But the family pressed on and made their way to Door 40 of the towering border fence to turn themselves in to FBI agents.

At first they were separated. Ortega and Matias were taken and held in New Mexico while Lopez, 27, was sent to a detention center 85 miles away in Tornillo, which in the Trump administration has become known for holding unaccompanied immigrant children in concentration camps.

They were released after about a week of what they described as cold and uncomfortable conditions and were able to reunite and find shelter in El Paso. Last week, the three flew to Chicago, where they have a calling address, and are awaiting their interview with immigration authorities in June to see if they will be allowed through the full US asylum system — or be deported.

The family entered the United States before Act 42 was lifted on May 11, which prevented many from seeking asylum while allowing some families with young children to do so. After that ban ended, the Biden administration introduced “presumption of ineligibility” for asylum for people who simply turn themselves in at the border. This has angered immigration advocates, who have called the new restriction a ban on asylum. No matter what, the dice are loaded against Ortega and her family if the authorities conclude that they are economic migrants.

Not far from the shelter, fellow Venezuelan Jose Okando, 28, was sleeping on the floor in an alley on a thin mat with some blankets.

He was also living in Colombia, with his wife, but he was tracked down by gang members who told him his poor mother in Venezuela had an outstanding debt, and said they would kill them both if they didn’t pay.

“We left everything from one day to the next. There was no time to find out why these people wanted to pay a debt that I didn’t even know about,” he told the Guardian.

They fled and took buses to Monterrey in northern Mexico. There they were within geolocation range of accessing the US government’s app, CBP One on a smartphone, to request an asylum appointment in the US.

Okando said they tried every day for a month but could not get a date. So they went to Matamoros, where the Rio Grande has infamously lost their lives, and on May 11 they produced scenes of frightened little children, some roped together with small inflatable rings to keep them from drowning, clinging to their parents on the muddy riverbank while others waited. to their necks in the river, all on the wrong side of the barbed wire with the American troops artillery behind them.

Okando and his wife made it safely through, though he was detained and expelled to Mexico, while his wife was allowed entry. She traveled to Utah to join her uncle – where those seeking asylum must provide an address to the authorities – and after Okando traveled along the Texas-Mexico border, he was allowed into El Paso.

Now he’s found a part-time job carrying blocks on a construction site and saving a bus ticket to join his wife as they also await their asylum interview.

“It’s been tough, but I feel safe here,” he told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Fabiola Komitan, 45, also felt protected on US soil after decades of physical abuse by her two ex-partners, she said.

Fabiola Cometan, 45, and her son, Louis.
Fabiola Comitan, who fled Peru with her six-year-old son Luis, said she feels protected on American soil after decades of physical abuse by her two former partners. Photograph: Lorena Figueroa/The Guardian

The last straw, she said, was receiving a death threat from one of her sisters back home in Peru recently because of a debt, going to the police and being ignored and then threatened by three men who came to her door demanding money.

Before leaving Lima to join a small group of Venezuelan immigrants traveling together in search of safety overland to the United States, she had to decide which of her children to take with her.

She said she thought about the dangers of Darren and the danger of blackmail and sexual assault in Mexico.

She was crying as she said she had taken her six-year-old son and left her nine-year-old daughter with another sister, to protect her from the risk of being raped or kidnapped.

“My heart is broken,” she said, “but I had to let her go to come here and find a better opportunity for all of us.”

She plans to make her way to New York and proceed with the asylum procedure there. Her son Louis talked excitedly about going to school and seeing snow one day.