Interesting story to share. At the mission in the dump on the Mexican side, we met 3 men from Uganda. They came in to get some medical care at the clinic and we had a long conversation. They are political refugees from Uganda, dictators change there often apparently.
They got to Mexico City and entered illegally so they were detained in a Mexican detention center for 60 days. They said it was really bad. They were released and came north to the border we are at. They were arrested again and put in jail here for another 60 days. They were released with papers giving them 60 days to leave Mexico or be arrested again. They are taking refuge in the mission and have about 40 days left. They are trying to cross into the USA.
I asked what would happen if they get deported back to Uganda and they said they would not make it alive, they would be killed and their family members have also been killed. Phew! They are well educated, smart and 2 of them said they were businessmen and the other ran a mission.
These are the kind of folks who are at great risk of human trafficking, They could end up in prison, deported, dead or enslaved. They are trying to find a way across the border soon, though they have no money, no contacts in the USA. The mafia, cartels, will charge them money. I don’t think they can just get across themselves. I gave them my card and phone number and told them if they make it across the border they could give immigration my number and I will try and help them. At the very least I can contact soft landings in Missoula or maybe the Helena community would be up for assisting them. It is just one story in the many but when someone puts that story in front of you, what do you do? If they do call, if they do get across, can our community help them?
We had a relatively slow afternoon and evening clinic. The flu epidemic had subsided – now just the respiratory viruses and occasional other illness. Most of the folks we are seeing are from Honduras and Guatemala, some El Salvador and a few from Nicaragua. They are mostly indigenous peoples, lovely people. Many have walked for over a month.They seem so resilient and upbeat. They think they have “made it” here but they have no idea the struggle ahead. I have been told that many will get deported. I wonder how they will manage. They do not have work permits which makes no sense – if we let them in we should let them work even on a temporary basis. SO they will have to work under the table leaving them vulnerable to many abuses and arrest. Do note that Mar a Lago in Florida, #45 palatial hotel, has hired undocumented workers and you can bet they were not paid minimum wage – just saying!!!!