EL CEIBO, Guatemala (AP) — Karla Leiva sat on the patio of a migrant shelter close to the Guatemala-Mexico border Thursday together with her 5-year-old daughter Zoe. That they had been in three international locations up to now 24 hours, none of them their very own.
Watch Division of Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas communicate on the brand new coverage within the participant above.
Leiva, 32, from Yoro in north-central Honduras, had arrived on the shelter in El Ceibo on Wednesday. She and her daughter had began that day 1,000 miles to the north in Brownsville, Texas, the place they had been placed on a airplane by the U.S. authorities with dozens of others moms and kids with out understanding the place it was going.
The rumor working among the many migrants was that they had been being despatched to California. Finally, whereas within the air, they had been advised the airplane would land in Villahermosa, in southern Mexico’s Tabasco state. There, Mexican authorities hustled them onto buses that drove them the three-plus hours to the Guatemalan border.
Leiva and her daughter had been swept up within the newest U.S. authorities effort to discourage migrants and asylum-seekers from arriving at its southern border. Whereas nonetheless delivering some migrants on flights on to their Central American nations, the U.S. authorities has began supplementing with flights to southern Mexican cities like Villahermosa and Tapachula, the place Mexican authorities carry them the remainder of the best way to Guatemala’s border, even when they’re not Guatemalan.
Since final 12 months, the U.S. has not been permitting migrants to solicit asylum on the southern border underneath a pandemic-related ban.
Leiva mentioned she was not requested by U.S. or Mexican authorities if she feared returning to her nation.
On the Mexico-Guatemala border, they had been advised to stroll into Guatemala and search for the shelter. Nobody registered their entrance into Guatemala. They weren’t requested for proof of a adverse COVID-19 check required of all foreigners coming into Guatemala.
“Nobody advised me something. They by no means heard my case and why I went to america,” Leiva mentioned. “I couldn’t inform them that they had been extorting me and that they threatened to kidnap my little daughter and take my adolescent sons to hitch the gang. That’s why I left the nation.”
Responding to reporters’ questions on Thursday, U.S. Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made his division’s first public acknowledgement that it’s expelling Central People on the flights to southern Mexico. The Mexican authorities has been publicly silent.
Mayorkas mentioned the U.S. was coordinating with the Mexican authorities on flights that embrace Central People and making certain that they adjust to worldwide legislation to offer humanitarian safety when warranted. He didn’t elaborate.
The flights to the inside of Mexico are a part of efforts to discourage returns by migrants apprehended alongside the Southwest border, Mayorkas mentioned throughout a go to to the Rio Grande Valley.
“If in actual fact they’re rotated and positioned within the northern a part of Mexico, it’s too facile, too simple for them to return and take a look at an unlawful entry once more,” he mentioned. “And so in response to that recidivism, to discourage and forestall that recidivism from occurring, we’re expelling them additional into the inside of Mexico, which is way harder to attempt once more.”
He mentioned the Biden administration has made adjustments to frame coverage, together with permitting unaccompanied youngsters into the nation, however mentioned individuals with no authorized declare to residency can be eliminated underneath the legislation.
On Wednesday, 5 United Nations businesses, together with the Excessive Commissioner for Refugees, expressed concern over the U.S. coverage and repeated their name for the Biden administration to carry the so-called Title 42 restriction on asylum.
Mayorkas mentioned the individuals being expelled to the inside of Mexico have been expelled underneath Title 42.
For years, the U.S. authorities has intermittently flown deported Mexican migrants again to the inside to make it harder to attempt to cross the border once more, however this seems to be the primary time it has flown Central People to Mexico as an alternative of their residence international locations.
The transfer comes after President Joe Biden jettisoned a lot of his predecessor’s hardline immigration insurance policies, describing them as merciless or unwise, together with one which made asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration courtroom.
Biden additionally scrapped agreements with Central American nations for asylum-seekers from third international locations to be despatched there to have their claims heard, denying any prospect of settling in america.
The Biden administration has mentioned it desires to concentrate on addressing the foundation causes of migration from Central America. Vice President Kamala Harris has led that effort, visiting Mexico and Guatemala to debate how the U.S. may also help whereas encouraging individuals to not come. However these are at greatest medium-term options, whereas on the U.S. border, the variety of encounters between U.S. authorities and migrants retains rising.
Leiva had left Yoro on July 27 together with her daughter and three older sons. Twelve days later, she and her daughter crossed the Rio Grande on a raft into Texas with a smuggler and had been rapidly apprehended. She mentioned her sons had been purported to have adopted, however didn’t handle to cross.
U.S. authorities took Leiva and Zoe to Brownsville. Two days later they had been placed on the airplane. On Thursday, they each nonetheless wore the figuring out wrist bands U.S. authorities gave them.
The orange-painted hilltop shelter right here has been filling this week as extra migrants are dropped on the border day by day. There’s little else on this distant border outpost surrounded by jungle.
Leiva was nonetheless attempting to grasp what had occurred and what would come subsequent. She mentioned she couldn’t return to Honduras and she or he fretted over the $3,000 she had paid the smuggler.
“Nobody signed any deportation. I didn’t signal,” she mentioned. “They tricked us. They didn’t even give me a paper.” The bracelets are the one proof they had been ever briefly within the U.S.
Leiva’s solely alternative, she mentioned, was to attempt making her method north once more. Her two sons and older daughter had been ready in northern Mexico.
AP author Ben Fox in Washington contributed to this report.