August 9, 2020

Maquila converted into shelter reflects migration crisis in northern Mexico

A group of children run around that old industrial building in Ciudad Juarez while the adults lie on the ground waiting for their date to be attended by US immigration authorities.

The hostel "Leona Vicario" began operating on July 31 in Ciudad Juarez, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and bordering with the United States.

A significant space within this place is where a mural with the flag of Mexico has been painted, reaching out to the Central American insignia.

Inside the enclosure there is a mural that, at the bottom, has traces of the first residents of the refuge, which in total has housed more than 2,100 people of ten different nationalities since its inauguration.

Today it welcomes more than 700 people, many of them Hondurans such as Mirna Ramírez, who fled her country because of the threats of the gangs and the difficult economic situation she suffered.

"On September 12, when I was on my way, they let me know that my son cut his veins due to the crisis, to the level of despair. At that moment I felt helpless, not being able to go back, because I had already embarked on my path and it is not enough for me to continue, "he told Efe Mirna Monday.

In the place that used to be a garment factory for the Mexican Army, a community kitchen has been installed to provide hot food.

Especially in this time of strong cold in northern Mexico, a climate that Central American people are not accustomed to.

According to Iván Jiménez, general coordinator of this center, which is financed mainly by the federal government, the nationalities and problems of people who have arrived in these months have been changing little by little.

Jiménez explained to Efe that in a first stage, migrants were received first and foremost, after being attended by the US immigration authorities, they were returned to the country under the "Remain in Mexico" program – for a period that lengthens several months – until the appointment with the authorities.

But in recent weeks Mexicans displaced by violence have also arrived, especially from states like Michoacán or Guerrero.

"Here we also receive fellow nationals. And, in fact, the invitation is still open to them. Please, come and stay here at the integrating center. There are services, there is medical attention, there is food, there are blankets, there are mattresses, we would like that they were here, "said the coordinator.

Unlike other migrant assistance centers, the most famous traditional festivities of the countries of origin of the migrants are held at the "Leona Vicario" shelter.

This to make them feel at least a little the warmth of home necessary to those who are kilometers away from the places where they grew up, but for different reasons they had to leave.

Moved to tears, Guatemalan Lidia Cruz told Efe that the new immigration policies that have been implemented since the mandate of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, have affected asylum processes.

Here "there are many children in need, and we want to go to the United States. We were going to fight to the United States, we are not going to hurt anyone and we do want to leave here (Ciudad Juarez), because we are suffering a lot in this place," pointed.

This asylum process continues for thousands of people who are stranded in Ciudad Juarez, but, according to migrants, in some cases the US immigration authorities have given "false appointments" in which after granting them a number, they do not have news of their process, and that creates uncertainty, they denounce.

Despite this, hostel managers have announced that a low percentage of emigrants have given up their attempt to enter the US, and many continue in this long wait for what they estimate will be a better future.

According to figures from the NGO Save the Children announced in mid-November, since January 2019 the US Government has returned to Mexico almost 70,000 asylum seekers and migrants under the "Remain in Mexico" policy, of which more than 13,000 are children .

Since October 2018, thousands of migrants, mostly Central Americans, began to cross in Mexico caravan to reach the US.

At the beginning of June, the United States and Mexico reached an immigration agreement that prevented the first country from imposing tariffs on all products from the second.

In return, Mexico sent the newly created National Guard to the northern and southern borders, which has led to a reduction of about 60% in the migratory flow.

. (tagsToTranslate) Maquila (t) converted (t) hostel (t) migratoria (t) Mexico

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