A report by Guillermo Flores published in A Tiempo.tv.
More than 12,000 migrants of different nationalities arrive at the Del Rio International Bridge on the Texas-Mexico border in the municipality of Acuña, Coahuila.
The U.S. authorities improvised an encampment under the international bridge, taking advantage of the shade caused by the bridge.
With few sanitary measures, no health services and only with the hope of receiving permission to live in that country, thousands of migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador cling to their American dream.
It's 4 o'clock in the morning, the alarm clock goes off and I get ready to go exercise and then check the newscast schedule that will start at seven o'clock in the morning. I can't get out of my head the image I saw last night of Paloma with her daughter Paula Maria who live in Acuña and how in an Instagram story she tells us about the good heart her daughter has in helping a group of Haitians.
Paula María told us about seven people from Haiti who were in Acuña on vacation and had nowhere to sleep, she invited them to her house so they could spend the night. Annoyed, she told us that three of the migrants had not been able to find a bed, and had had to sleep on the floor.
In Paula Maria's innocence, the migrants are vacationers, but the truth is that they are people who are fleeing from the reality of their countries, scourged by poverty, hurricanes, earthquakes and political violence, for them, after thousands of kilometers traveled, that floor and space that Paula Maria got for them, tastes like glory.
Unofficial government figures mention that more than 12 thousand migrants have arrived in Acuña and are sleeping under the International River Bridge which connects the cities of Acuña on the Mexican side with Del Rio in the United States.
The mayor Bruno Lozano of Del Rio, in view of the migratory emergency, has requested the support of the Department of Homeland Security to collaborate with the border patrol agents, given the magnitude of the problem and has also proceeded to close the bridge.
The program is over and it's 8 o'clock in the morning, while I listen to the CIDE journalism master's class, I prepare my suitcase and my reporter's equipment, I get into my truck and take the road to Acuña, Coahuila, 497 km await me, five and a half hours on the road, google maps.
After an hour, a sign on the road indicates 350 km towards Piedras Negras which is 88 kilometers from Acuña, how much are these kilometers that I will travel in the comfort of my truck, with air conditioning and a warm coffee, compared to the 2,280 kilometers that migrants have to travel since they enter Mexico through Hidalgo in Chiapas in the south of the country until arriving in Acuña, on the border with the United States?
These three countries make up the region known as the Northern Triangle where violence levels are on par with war zones, food insecurity reaches the highest levels in a global comparison and the migration rate is constantly growing due to the millions of mostly young people who want to escape the reality they are living in.
Three years ago I was able to cover that caravan in Tijuana, I witnessed the pain suffered by migrants from different countries that beyond the physical, the mental pain of having to leave behind their history, their family, their country, their geography, their everything.
Haitians escape from a country that many say is far from the hand of God, in recent years hurricanes and earthquakes have been the constant and the upheaval of the political system a reality.
According to World Bank data, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. On July 7 of this year, Jovenel Moise its president was assassinated when an armed commando entered his house.
On January 12, 2010 an earthquake hit the island leaving at least 220 thousand dead.
In 2015 the hurricane Matthew left approximately 800 dead and damages of more than 2.7 billion dollars.
On August 18 of this year an earthquake of 7.2 intensity left more than 2 thousand deaths on the island. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 1.2 million people, including 540 thousand children, were affected by the earthquake and about half a million minors have limited or no access to shelter, drinking water, medical care and nutrition.
The events of recent years of natural and political character have turned Haiti into a migrant generating country, in 2019 the United Nations reported 1 million 585 thousand Haitian migrants.
We arrived at the famous kilometer 26 where there is now a checkpoint of the Mexican army, before there was a checkpoint to prevent the illegal entry of goods into Mexico.
Seven passenger trucks are being searched, everything seems to indicate that the migrant crisis has put the Mexican government on alert.
Later I would find out that the way most of the migrants arrive to the border in Acuña is by passenger transport. "You can't take video" a member of the Mexican army tells me, I identify myself with my credential of the International Federation of Journalists to which he responds, "that's no good here" while his submachine gun swung on his back.
After questioning me about the reasons for my trip and commenting that I was on my way to cover the migrant crisis, a "continue on your way" was what followed the conversation, very reluctantly by the way.
Why do they move in trucks?
Migrants from different countries that are arriving to the border with the United States entered through the southern border of Mexico, in Tapachula, Chiapas, most of them completed the immigration procedures to be able to move legally in the country.
These procedures can take from a few days to months.
It is three o'clock in the afternoon and after traveling a little more than 450 kilometers we arrive in Ciudad Acuña, everything seems normal and relatively calm, along the road the presence of trucks of the public security forces of Coahuila and the army was continuous, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Coahuila has been the northern border state of Mexico with the lowest number of murders in the last 20 years, 6,613.
Security in Coahuila, while it has served as an attraction for new investments, has also reached the ears of migrants who have valued crossing through this state, the third largest in Mexico, more than through another in which their bodies may be the object of organized crime's desire.
José told me in the middle of the water as we both crossed the Rio Bravo, his journey to reach the northern border of Mexico, both of us slipping away but already in North American soil, he continued telling me that there were four plane flights, several trucks and hundreds of kilometers, he had passed through French Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Panama, Nicaragua and ..... There we stayed because some U.S. immigration patrols were coming towards us and I had to run back again to the Rio Bravo, heading to Mexico, while Jose along with his family, will continue with the hope of achieving the dream of reaching the United States, a dream that is reduced to a number 6,270 which is the turn of his hope where the U.S. migration will decide whether or not to grant Jose's dream.
"Here fighting, it is better to stay here and die here than to return to Cuba": José, Cuban migrant.
The Tickets, the summary of hope
The U.S. immigration authority hands out turns to migrants waiting under the bridge that connects Mexico with the United States.
Those shifts are the number that they will have to be attended by an immigration agent who will decide whether or not they will be granted permission to live in the United States, whether for humanitarian or political asylum or any other reason.
Inside the migrant camp the comment is that out of every thousand interviews only 10 percent are successful and are granted permission, the rest are shipped on direct flights to their country of origin.
Living in the migrant camp
The dynamics of migrants in the area is striking, they spend the night under the international bridge on American soil, but since they can no longer enter the country, all purchases of food, hygiene products, health or anything else they do on Mexican soil, so the curtain is that cement space that allows crossing the Rio Bravo walking, it becomes a space of permanent movement of migrants, who cross it with the only nuisance of getting wet to just above the knees.
There are migrants who shop on Mexican soil and charge for bringing products to others, there are even Mexicans who cross the curtain to U.S. soil specifically to the migrant camp to sell burritos, gorditas, water, soda and other products to other migrants.
In the migrant camp, the U.S. government provided one meal per day to the migrants, which means that to get more meals during the day they have to move to Mexican soil crossing the Rio Bravo through the curtain and look for free food with various groups of Mexicans who support migrants or else buy food in the area.
Months are reduced to an instant
A month, two, three up to seven months is the time that some of the migrants take to arrive from their respective countries to the northern border of Mexico with the dream of managing to live in the United States, months that turn into minutes in front of an American immigration agent who will decide if their life story is so tragic and cruel that it deserves political or humanitarian asylum from the United States.
— ATiempo.Tv (@ATiempoTv) September 18, 2021
Translation done by: Karla Giselle Bonales Ramírez