The local paper reported earlier this week that the trip to the US border is now done in an express five days, as opposed to the normal two weeks of peril and danger. An official and very stern message came out from the US just days ago, that children with at least one parent in their home country would be deported. News filters back each day of the ease the crossing has become.
The child immigration issue remains highly volatile and extremely politically charged. As such, the messages are quite the mix; the sternest warning always allowing exceptions. The message received and understood here is the exception part; we are after all Masters of Exception.
While true that there is too little information to call it conspiracy, there are too many coincidences to call it chance. Let us take a look at the perception here on the ground, in small communities off the beaten path.
Several weeks ago, the news spread through the grapevine that the USA was opening the border for children. Some sources actually put the number at 70,000. The beginning source of the news seems to be the “coyotes” who earn their livelihood by guiding immigrates north. It must be understood that the local perception of a “coyote” is not that of the negative “human trafficker” that is generally portrayed by official sources. Coyotes are often members of the community who have built up their reputation by providing this transportation service to their neighbors for generations.
The recent flood to the border did in effect open the gates. Normal procedures were set aside and new arrivals were just deposited at bus stations. Word got back very quickly and the flood north gained strength.
The trip north normally takes several weeks, as the coyote times segments of the journey with work shifts of collaborators and with negotiation for passage through territories held by differing, often conflicting organizations. The word is out now that the obstacles have been removed; coyotes are able to double the number of trips per month as it is now possible to arrive in just 5 days.
The “do not send your children or they will be deported” message, conditioned by “if they have a parent in the home country” is an invitation to keep coming. Most of the younger ones are going to be with their one parent or parents who are already in the USA. They are leaving grandmothers and aunts, very few are leaving parents.
Today´s paper, El Diario de Hoy, is a perfect example.
The headline reads “Obama asks parents in Central America to not put their children at risk.” Pages 2 and 3 detail the fact that children from Central America cannot be deported without a long process. Page 3 cites a study concluding that the immigration is due gang violence. Page 4 is the article from the headline citing President Obama´s message to Central American parents. Page 8 uses red ink to showcase the 307 violent deaths in June for El Salvador, 167 more than last year.
Put yourself in the place of a Central American parent, for a moment. You have been in, let´s say, Houston for six years and have a decent job which allows you to send support back to your family. You left your daughter behind, with your mother, when she was just four years old. Now she is ten, you haven´t seen her or watched her grow and you are starting to worry for her wellbeing. You´ve heard the rumors, seen the news and know of friends who now have their children safely with them.
What would you do, right now?