Carlos did it. The twelve-year-old from Guatemala was on the road for months. Now he’s arrived in the United States – alone. Frightened and hungry, he gets out of the rubber dinghy in which tugs brought him across the Rio Grande border river to Texas. “I came because we had nothing more to eat,” says the slender boy with the big brown eyes as night falls over the valley.
Oscar says his mother, with whom he lived alone, lost her job as a cleaning lady because of the corona pandemic. When she parted, she said: “Don’t cry.” “But I cried,” he says and then tears well up again. Oscar hopes that he will soon be able to see his uncle, who has lived in the USA for 15 years.
Tens of thousands of migrants have come across the southern border to the USA in recent weeks, and the border police facilities and prisons have long been overcrowded. The influx of refugees has become one of the greatest challenges for President Joe Biden in the two months since he took office.
The most terrible part of the trip was the twelve hours in a trailer full of people, says Oscar. “It was hot and everyone passed out,” he says. Even Oscar himself.
But there are also fond memories of the escape. Like the one to the friend he met on the way and later lost sight of again. “He told me not to give up, we had to do it, with God’s grace,” says Oscar. One day Oscar wants to study in the USA – and his mother will join him.
Together with Oscar, more than 70 migrants crossed the border on Saturday evening. Most come from Guatemala and Honduras, two from the EU country Romania. Over 20 were unaccompanied adolescents and children, some of them only seven years old.
A sandy path leads from the river bank through thorn bushes to the waiting border police. Everywhere there are the colorful plastic bracelets that the smugglers put on the refugees to identify them. In between, individual shoes, a baby rattle, Honduran money.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump wanted to completely seal off the 3,200-kilometer border with Mexico. Biden has criticized this policy of isolation and is driving a new course in immigration policy. But he doesn’t want to open the border either. But dealing with migrants has changed with the change of power in Washington.
“We will not send children under the age of 18 back on this dangerous journey,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “That doesn’t mean they can stay in the United States. We want to treat them humanely and make sure they’re in a safe place while their cases are being settled.”
In February, nearly 100,000 migrants illegally crossed the border, including more than 9,400 minors. Many dream of being reunited with their parents. The mother of 17 year old Diego from Guatemala went to the United States when he was one month old. As soon as he stepped on US soil, he borrows a cell phone and calls her. They both start to cry.(afp)