Amanda García tries to contain her tears while waiting at the bus station in a border town in the Texas by a bus to Dallas. After 30 days on the road, you are just hours away from your goal: a better life in USA.
Like many migrants who leave the Central America, García says that life in his Guatemala Christmas takes place under constant threat of violence.
Sitting with her children, an energetic five-year-old boy and a ten-month-old baby, at the Brownsville terminal, she explains how the opportunities the United States offers were the main reason for taking her there.
At 22, I couldn’t find a job and the children’s father didn’t help them either. “I wanted to move on and show all those people who told me I couldn’t do it,” he says.
García has relatives further north, and although he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do in Dallas, he is sure it will be better than nothing.
After an illegal crossing, the Border Patrol (CBP) gave him papers that will allow him to stay in the country for a while and look for work. “It is a joy for me that they have opened a door for me to move on,” he says.
García and her children are one of dozens of families of migrants who pass through the Brownsville bus station on a daily basis, especially women with young children and similar stories.
Most arrive in Mexico hoping to find work in the United States. They also arrive fleeing the endemic violence of “criminals and drug dealers”, as one of them says.
Eva María Polanco, 25, is going to Houston, where her in-laws live, or perhaps Indiana, where a sister lives. “Here you work on anything, while in Honduras there is no work. Life is very difficult there,” he says.
She has been on the road for a month with her two-year-old daughter: on the bus, or hitchhiking. “There were times when we had to sleep in the open air (…) The truth is that I didn’t bring much money,” he says.
People shared food with them and, at the border, there were those who helped her cross the Rio Grande without asking for money in return. Once on the other side, they were stopped by the Border Patrol.
CBP never asked him the reasons for his trip, he just collected his data and gave him the documents that will allow him to stay and work, at least temporarily with the commitment to report to the authorities where he is established.
Like many others, Polanco explains that the president’s decision Joe Biden to alleviate the harsh immigration restrictions applied by its predecessor, Donald Trump, made your decision easier.
“The truth is that it helped us a lot,” he says. “If I had come earlier, I would not have passed,” he explains.
And while the Biden government sends back adults who cross illegally, the women at Brownsville Bus Station think that with very young children in their care, they will be able to stay.
The consequence was an increase in migrants, which became a challenge for the new government. “There is no end in sight, as large groups continue to enter” in the Rio Grande Valley area in southeastern Texas, the regional head of the Border Patrol recently wrote on Twitter.
Fleeing from gangs
Some of the women who pass through Brownsville go to their husbands, already in the United States.
Luvia Tabora, 25, reports that after Biden came to the presidency, her husband told her it was a good time to go.
Others leave the family behind, like Jilsa Revolorio, who will head to Colorado, where her cousin lives, hoping to work in a restaurant. Her two-year-old daughter, Camilla, travels with her, but her other three children stayed with her mother.
In Guatemala, she worked as a street vendor and faced constant gang extortion. They always wanted more, remember.
“If you can no longer pay the fee, you have to run away, because your life is in danger,” he says.
Everyone says the trip was not an easy one, although it has the help of good Samaritans on both sides of the border. Once in the United States, volunteers in Brownsville deliver food, clean clothes and toys to the children to help them continue.
They also run tests for covid-19. The 7% who tested positive received a free hotel room, paid for by donations, to be quarantined before continuing their trip.
Daniela Sosa, manager of the Neighbor Settlement House, a homeless shelter, says that they have been feeding migrants for a long time and that the current flow is not as great as it was two years ago, so they are prepared.
A few blocks from the terminal, volunteers pack dozens of food for families.
“They will only be here for a day or two while making the flight or bus arrangements,” he explains. “That is why we are a relief to them,” he adds.
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