Mi­grants bide their time wait­ing to cross bor­der

They say it’s a slow process but worth wait

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Yfat Yos­si­for San An­gelo Stan­dard-Times USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

PIEDRAS NE­GRAS, Mex­ico – Fred­die Valdez doesn’t have a specific lo­ca­tion in mind. Any­where in the U.S. is bet­ter than home.

The Hon­duran ci­ti­zen left home more than 20 days ago. He walked, hitch­hiked and even­tu­ally got on a bus to make his way to Piedras Ne­gras, di­rectly across the Rio Grande from Ea­gle Pass, Texas.

He was part of the car­a­van of 1,800 mi­grants seek­ing asy­lum Thurs­day. They ar­rived at the bor­der town Mon­day.

“I want a bet­ter life for my fam­ily; back home the sit­u­a­tion was bad,” he said. “It was too dan­ger­ous.”

He plans to wait his turn, as long as it takes to get his per­mit to get into the U.S. Then he will send for his fam­ily to join him. U.S. officials said Wed­nes­day they can process about 16 asy­lum seek­ers daily.

Hon­duras is plagued with vi­o­lent crime, and its mur­der rate re­mains the high­est in the world de­spite be­ing dras­ti­cally curbed in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to Hu­man Rights Watch.

Through­out the day, buses were loaded with peo­ple opt­ing to self-de­port back to Hon­duras.

The fenced com­pound hold­ing the mi­grants is about a 20-minute drive from the bor­der and was once a fac­tory. Mex­i­can po­lice with riot gear stand watch along the perime­ter.

Some mi­grants, mostly the men, stand at the bar­ri­cades, some sleep on blan­kets or chairs while kids do crafts at a nearby ta­ble or play soc­cer and other games in the court­yard.

Ear­lier last week, on the U.S. side of the bor­der, about 500 Texas state troop­ers, 50 re­serve deputies from across the state and 250 ac­tive duty mil­i­tary were dis­patched to the area around Ea­gle Pass in re­sponse to the influx of mi­grants in Piedras Ne­gras.

Al­varo Mi­randa held up his phone show­ing a photo of in­juries, his arms bruised from a con­fronta­tion with a gang in El Sal­vador.

Like oth­ers, he joined the car­a­van to seek asy­lum for a chance to find a bet­ter life, he said in Span­ish to a trans­la­tor.

The car­a­van started in Hon­duras, but along the way peo­ple from Gu­atemala, Nicaragua and El Sal­vador joined. Mi­randa said the car­a­van was or­ga­nized by some­one they knew as “Car­los,” but he was de­ported be­fore they reached Piedras Ne­gras.

Mi­randa said they came to the Texas bor­der in­stead of north­ern Mex­ico ports like Ti­juana be­cause they felt there were likely fewer mi­grants in Piedras Ne­gras, mak­ing it a safer port to seek asy­lum.

Mi­randa said the mi­grants didn’t know they would be de­tained for pro­cess­ing for so long.

He said one of the prob­lems is the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and orderly way to process the mi­grants. Each per­son was given a wrist­band with a num­ber, yet the im­mi­gra­tion officers are not call­ing peo­ple in nu­mer­i­cal or­der, he said.

“I’m num­ber 897 and I will wait pa­tiently if I knew there were 897 be­fore me, but it seems to be who woke up first in the morn­ing or a ran­dom per­son they pick,” he said.

Lean­ing in on the yel­low fence, the men stand­ing with Mi­randa agree. Go­ing back is not an op­tion for them. Asy­lum is worth the wait.


Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants stand in­side a for­mer fac­tory in Piedras Ne­gras, Mex­ico. About 1,800 ar­rived in this bor­der city on Mon­day.

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