Migrations: at the gates of the United States, children first, with God’s help

Joy Day: On Friday morning, Jocelyn and his wife, Berline, four months pregnant, legally transferred to the United States, so their second child, born in October, will undoubtedly become American.

A relief for this Haitian couple, who claim to have been sent back to Port-au-Prince on February 7. “If my son is born there, it’s better for me and for him,” Jocelyn smiles just before moving from Reynosa in northern Mexico to McAllen in Texas, after a journey started in 2015 that led them to Chile.

“My first child was born in Chile. He is Chilean. He can live there without any problems. Not us. So if my son is born there (in the US) he does not need a visa!” , adds the father of a two-year-old baby sleeping in his arms.

“I want a stable life,” adds his 25-year-old wife, who also wants her next child to be born anywhere in the United States. “I want a better life for him. I suffered a lot.”

Haitian migrants in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022, at the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP – Pedro PARDO)

United Saturday night at a McAllen center, the family wants a tentative title and wants to raise $ 400 to join relatives in the state of Georgia.

But beware: “Only God knows” whether the child will be born in the American Promised Land, says the father with caution and fatalism after so many trials.

“Unfair arrest” –

Unborn children, children born on the road or taken along the roads of exile, children who stayed in the country: the fate of migrants is largely linked to their offspring in American countries where the right to land prevails.

Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP - PEDRO PARDO)
Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)

Carolina (first name changed), in her thirties, says she fled Tegucigalpa to save her three teenage boys from forced recruitment to the ranks of Mara Salvatrucha, the gang that terrorizes Honduras – and who once had their father’s skin.

Her youngest was born in April in Tapachula on the border between Guatemala and Mexico. The quiet nursing baby has spent a third of his life in detention.

Carolina accuses the Mexican Migration Services of detaining her for twelve days. “An unfair arrest,” she proclaims as she rests in a reception center on the banks of the Rio Grande. “They said they could not deport me because the baby is Mexican.”

“Migracion” will finally give him permanent residence in Mexico. But she does not care: the family would like to join the baby’s father, who lives in Houston.

One of his sons even claims that if necessary he is ready to swim across the Rio Bravo (as it is called on the Mexican side).

Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP - PEDRO PARDO)
Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)

He does not need it: Carolina and her four children were also able to cross the border legally Saturday morning. As a revelation by the Conservative judge who the day before had ordered the maintenance of a restrictive measure taken in Donald Trump’s time (Title 42).

“You’re going to have hard days, but never a day without God,” proclaims the profile picture of the young mother’s WhatsApp account.

– “We are scared” –

Pregnant women and children – outside of school – represent a good portion of the more than 2,000 migrants waiting in Reynosa (a figure given by the local and Texas press).

“We now have 200 pregnant women,” said Pastor Hector Silva, whose reception center “Senda Vida” (Way of Life) is overwhelmed.

Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP - PEDRO PARDO)
Haitian migrants in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, on May 19, 2022 on the border with McAllen, Texas (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)

Already a mother of two, Pascale, a 25-year-old Haitian, spent the night in hospital for treatment following a miscarriage in the third month of pregnancy.

“They said it was because of stress,” slips the young woman, who claims to have paid 700 pesos ($ 35) in medical expenses.

“There are women who have not received any medical follow-up in the sixth month of pregnancy,” notes Anayeli Flores, of MSF. “With these newcomers, we have seen an increase in our consultations of pregnant women in three weeks.”

Among the migrants are those who left children, like this couple who also fled the violence in Honduras. It is difficult, they admit, when talking about their children of 10 and 8 years and 18 months. “We are afraid. But we trust God.”

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