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Image of the Border Child Care Center, in Tamaulipas.
Image of the Border Child Care Center, in Tamaulipas.

The sad Christmas of deported children

Dozens of minors do everything they can to fulfill their Christmas dream: to cross the border and meet their families.

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Julio Loya initially reported this story, for El Universal in Mexico.

 

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are still the most difficult dates for those who, for one reason or another, have decided to leave Latin America.

The gatherings with dozens of relatives (including the cousin of the cousin of the uncle we have not seen for years), the endless meals, the rum (or the whiskey with coca cola, in the case of my grandmother), the punch, the hallacas, the pernil, the gifts and the aguinaldos are memories that shrink the heart of the strongest.

But no experience compares with that of the 95 Mexican and Central American immigrant children who were detained this December by the Border Patrol and deported to Tamaulipas from the United States.

El Universal de México collects the cases of Astrid Yudeine Portillo Carranza (16), originally from Honduras, and José Adolfo Peña (14), from San Salvador.

Portillo was arrested by the Border Patrol on December 7 and sent to Reynosa, where officials from the Border Child Care Center (CAMEF, in Spanish) received her.

According to the young girl, she has been in Reynosa for more than 10 days, after having traveled from Copán (Honduras), which is about 2,300 kilometers away. "I left my country on November 4 to get to the United States because I wanted to see my mother and my brothers, spend Christmas with them, be with them. That was my wish," said Portillo.

Between her savings and the money her mother sent her, Astrid managed to pay a "pollero" to transport her to McAllen, Texas. "The trip was very stressful because you have to come and take care of the police so they don’t stop you and deport you or so that they don’t take your money, not to mention that you have to take care of the same driver so he doesn’t leave you or rape you," she said.

José Adolfo, on the other hand, also wanted to meet with his father for Christmas and try to finish his studies in Texas. "Staying in my country was not going to help me to help my mother; we are very poor and there is no way to earn money to be able to live well," the young man acknowledges.

After being arrested and deported, José Adolfo only wants to return to his family, after seeing his desire frustrated.

According to the CAMEF of Tamaulipas, during the year 2017, 2,820 unaccompanied minors were deported in the municipalities of Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, of which 840 came from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and 1,980 from Mexico.

The organization, which is responsible for receiving and caring for migrant children and adolescents who are deported without their parents' company, assured through its director, José Guadalupe Villegas, that although the migration of foreigners has decreased in part due to fear of President Trump's immigration policies, the municipality of Reynosa received 1,095 cases of children between 8 and 16 years of age in 2017, of whom 628 were Mexicans and 467 from other parts of Central America.

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