Long day. We crossed over to Mexico in the morning, intending to do some medical care at a park where folks were waiting. But when we arrived there was no one there. We called our contact who said there had been some incident with the cartels where people were kidnapped, killed and strung up. Apparently the migration increases the attention on check points making it more difficult for the cartels to get their goods across. We then followed the river where we were told people were hiding and came across a small christian mission in the dump. Here families are cared for. There is a male and female dorm, a careplace for the disabled, a comida for food. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) comes 2x a week to do medical care. We will return tomorrow to work there for 2 hours.
We returned to the respite center for our 12-8 shift and have gathered some more information. Apparently families, though not intact (usually a mother and child or father and child) get across the river and turn themselves into border patrol. This is legal. They are then brought to the detention center where they are processed. Most are released from here within 8 days and have papers with a city and address of either a family member or a sponsor. They are put into “dog cages” here. This charity picks them up by bus and there are about 350-400 per day arriving and the same amount leaving each day. It is very transient here; they are assisted with bus tickets, given food, clothing and medical care before getting on the bus. It keeps them off the streets where they are vulnerable. This center is only for families with children. I do not know about single people but hear many can be kept in detention for a long time. They need to raise a bond to be released.
People here move through. Kids are not being separated from their parents but they are not advised as to the asylum process and I have been told that if they show up for their court date without legal advice they are likely deported. Only 16% will get asylum.
We see a lot of viral infections, many sick kids but the flu epidemic seems to have subsided. We are heading out again to cross the border and do a few hours of work at this small mission in the dump. Have to say, the people we see are so grateful. They are kind and so tender with their children. Many fathers are alone with kids – one dad with an 8 month old daughter. They are so hopeful, believing they have made it to the USA. They all have such hopes for a better, safer life and have no idea the challenges that lay ahead to remain here. They have no work permits so they cannot legally work and many have paid the $8,000 to cross and are obligated to pay it back quickly or their families at home are threatened or worse.
At least here one has the ability to cross the river. I hear Tijuana is very different.