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Migrants Expelled from the U.S. Say Their Rights Are Being Ignored

Ciudad Juárez has had to house the migrants sent back by the U.S. under Title 42. It has faced other migratory crises, but the pandemic has reduced the capacity of shelters. Biden's administration will not stop sending people back to Mexico.
14 May 2021 – 12:11 PM EDT
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"They told us that we were going to a bigger shelter because they could not process our paperwork there, since there were too many of us," said Walter Lorenzo, 35, who traveled from Guatemala with his 5-months-pregnant wife and 3-year-old daughter. They were sitting on a bench in Ciudad Juárez on April 8, 2021, minutes after the U.S. had sent them back to Mexico under Title 42. The controversial policy of sending people back to Mexico was started under Donald Trump and Joe Biden has allowed it to continue during the pandemic. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"They did not tell us that we were going to Mexico," Lorenzo said. "We wanted to get the American Dream, but it's not easy." The family was confused about how to get around Juárez, a city that they had never been, which made him sad. "This is not the dream we had, and nobody wants to be deported." Crédito: anna clare spelman
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Walter and his family sat for a few minutes at the exit to the Lerdo bridge, where they crossed the border to Mexico. They said an acquaintance would come pick them up and allow them to stay in his house in Ciudad Juárez while they looked for a way to return to their country. "I wouldn't do this again. You suffer so much. And it's not worth it anymore," he said, mentioning the weeks of hunger, thirst, and sleeping in crowded groups that it took for them to reach the United States. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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This family had believed their smuggler, who told them that the United States was allowing people with children to enter the country. Walter's wife is now seven months pregnant, and their daughter often asks her parents to take her home. "That's why it's better for us to go back. Only God knows why we didn't make it," he said. His daughter put a stuffed animal the Mexican officials gave her into a bag from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security containing some of the family's possessions. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"We realized that we were in Mexico after we got out of the plane and saw the flag," said Marvin, a 37-year-old Guatemalan migrant who was traveling with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. Their smuggler told them that the U.S. was allowing families to enter the country. Marvin said his family fled from criminals who murdered his brother over a motorcycle and who he had reported to the police. "I was lying in my hammock one day and two people came to my house and started shooting." The U.S. authorities did not explain why they were sending him back to Mexico or give him a document explaining what would happen to people like him. "We didn't know why they sent us back. In McAllen, the Border Patrol officials said, 'Don't start complaining. You're not getting deported. You're going to a shelter in Houston that belongs to a church, and there you're going to be able to argue your case." Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"Everything they told us was a life. They've tricked many people," he said. Authorities in the U.S. did not allow him to explain why he was seeking asylum or why he had migrated. "They didn't let us say a single word. They ignored all our rights." Marvin, who is staying at a temporary shelter of the municipal government of Ciudad Juárez, fears that their only option is to go back to Guatemala. "Maybe we just have to accept reality and wait to see what's next," he said. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"They never told us that they were going to send us back," said Christian García, a 22-year-old Honduran, minutes after being sent back to Mexico with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. They were placed on a plane from McAllen. "We asked and asked where they were taking us, and nobody told us anything." He said they were told they were being moved at night on April 8, 2021, to El Paso so they could call their family members in the U.S. He and his family do not plan to return to Honduras. Their house was destroyed by Hurricane Iota. They are in debt because they borrowed money to pay for the trip. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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Plastic bags given to migrants to hold their belongings before they are sent back to Mexico under Title 42. They have the insignia of the Department of Homeland Security and have been dropped on the street in Ciudad Juárez. These are the only items given to migrants who are expelled under Title 42. They are not given a date in which they can present their case before an immigration judge, unlike the migrants who were previously sent back to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a policy started in 2019. The lack of information makes the wait seem longer, since asylum-seekers do not know when the border might open. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"I wanted to work in the United States," said Deisi Caal Tiul, 18, a Guatemalan woman, who traveled with her 1-year-old child and her friend, Olga Marina Choc, 21. After being sent to Ciudad Juárez under Title 42, they went to a shelter that was created originally for trans women who were waiting to request asylum. "They told us that the border was open," Choc said of the smugglers who brought them to the border. "But when we got to the border, we realized that it was closed." Neither of them plans to go back to their country. They will wait to present their asylum cases. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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Deisi's child does not stop crying. She gets up from her chair to show him the view of Ciudad Juárez from the window. She believes that, one day, they will be able to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Her uncles are waiting for her in the U.S. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"Guatemala is very violent. We came here to better our lives, but they've left us here," Choc said in Ciudad Juárez. She said that Biden's messaging and immigration officials' explanation were not clear enough. "They lie to people. ... All that we're waiting for is for the president to keep his promise and to receive people who came all the way from Guatemala. Or is all of that a lie too?" she said. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"Immigration officials grabbed us, didn't tell us anything, and then sent us back. They didn't tell us if we would have the chance to cross later," said Bertilz Salazar, 48, a Guatemalan woman who traveled 2,000 miles from Izabál, Guatemala to El Paso, Texas, with her daughter, 14. U.S. Customs and Border Officials expelled them at 8 p.m. "It was so upsetting, because we didn't know where to go. We had to ask the taxi driver where there was a shelter," she said. They ended up in the same place as Caal and Choc. "I don't want to go back to Guatemala, because the situation there is rough," she said. She explained that the banana farm in which she worked flooded during Hurricane Iota, and she and many others lost their employment. She hopes that the border will reopen and she can seek asylum. "I will wait," she said. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"I will wait until they open the border," said Marta Domínguez, 26, who was traveling with her daughter, 2. She said that wants to get to the home of her mother, who has lived undocumented in Florida for 17 years. "She will help me. She told me to wait until the border is opened. I'm willing to wait however long it takes. I don't know when it will open, but I will wait." She said that Border Patrol officials explained to her that she would not be able to enter the U.S. because migrant crossings were prohibited due to the coronavirus. "They told us that they'd send us back, and that we would have to wait," she said. The smuggler who had brought her from Guatemala had told her that the border was open. Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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"I hope that President Biden has some compassion for us," said Santos Feliciana Maldonado, 29, a Guatemalan woman who wanted to work in the U.S. to help her father who has diabetes and her mother who has medical issues with one leg. In order to travel, she borrowed money from a neighbor, who is currently charging her interest. "We had to come," she said. "When I think about it I feel like there's no way out. I need to be able to cross. I hope they open the border." She had heard rumors from other migrants that other parts of the border were open. For now, she will keep looking for employment in Ciudad Juárez. So far employers have rejected her because she does not have papers. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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An armband from U.S. Customs and Border Protection used to identify migrants who are detained in the U.S. for a few hours before they are expelled to Mexico. Crédito: Anna Clare Spelman/Univision
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RELACIONADOS:Title 42U.S.-Mexico borderundocumented immigrants Améxica

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