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Deportation, a fresh start for migrants who don’t give up on the American dream

Honduran Héctor Pérez tried eight times to migrate to the United States and was deported eight times. He won’t try anymore. Other deportees, however, return to the north on the same day they set foot in Honduras, needing to escape poverty and achieve the “American dream”.

“I think this is the last time I try,” Pérez told EFE after trying to reach the United States eight times between 2022 and 2024, the last at the beginning of last April. It is a “very difficult” situation, but unfortunately “the opportunity did not arise”, perhaps because “it is God’s purpose that we not reach the objective”.

Pérez, 44 years old, is in Returned Migrant Assistance Center (CAMR) of Omoa, in the Honduran Caribbean, which is administered by the Red Cross in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other organizations such as the European Union.

This welder, father of three, explains that he left because in Honduras “the salaries don’t adjust”.

So, on September 16, 2022, he tried for the first time, but was detained in Villahermosa, Mexico. He was arrested two other times when trying to cross the Rio Grande to reach Texas, and the rest in the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, on the border with the United States.

“On this path we suffered many things, attacks, cold, hunger, everything. You have to walk day and night if possible, everything happens along this path, robberies, robberies from criminal gangs around the corner,” says Pérez, who recently returned by bus from Mexico.

Other deportees who accompanied him didn’t think twice and that same day resumed their route north. Some say that the violence in their communities by the “maras” leaves them no other option.

Hurricanes, violence and poverty

The immigration crisis in Honduras worsened after the devastating Hurricane Mitch in late 1998, which pushed approximately 100,000 Hondurans to the United States, a high percentage of whom were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that was renewed every 18 months.

After Mitch, a high unemployment rate, low wages and gang violence multiplied this migration to North America and Europe, to which the phenomenon of migrant caravans was added in 2018.

It is estimated that around 1.5 million Hondurans live abroad, the majority in the USA, and every year they send remittances worth around 10 billion dollars, more than 20% of Honduras’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with 60% of the poor among their number. 10 million inhabitants.

Although there are no official data, the International Migration Observatory of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) estimates that more than 60,000 Hondurans migrated in the first quarter of 2024 alone.

Deportations are also numerous: by air from the USA, by land from Mexico and Guatemala, or by sea from Belize, the director general of the Honduran Red Cross, Alexei Castro, explained to EFE.

In 2023, between two and three buses with around 160 migrants arrived daily at the Returned Migrant Assistance Center (CAMR) in Omoa, although by the end of the year this number had decreased.

Family units are also served in the Center of Belém, in the city of San Pedro Sula, in the north of the country, by the Red Cross in coordination with other entities such as the Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senaf). With the capacity to serve around 100 migrants, in the “high season” they receive up to 160 returnees daily.

(Photo. EFE Agency)

Women and children, the most affected

“Families with minors should go to the Belém Center”, which has the capacity to receive 42 women, 42 men and five families of five people each, Gabriela Oviedo, administrator of the Red Cross at that center, explained to EFE.

Most returnees arrive by plane from the US, sometimes on two or even three flights per week. Due to lack of space and the fact that families and unaccompanied minors are received almost every week, returnees have a maximum period of 72 hours to stay at the center, although in some cases their stay can be extended up to a week.

This is the case of a 14-year-old boy, son of farmers from a community in Copán, in western Honduras, who left in March for the United States to help his family and for the Mexican city of Tapachula, 15 days later after starting his trip, he was “detained” and deported.

The Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senaf) reported in April that since last January, at least 2,216 Honduran children had been deported, many of whom were traveling with their mothers, such as little Belén and her mother Sandra Alberto, 29 years old.

A “very difficult” journey

“I’m a single mother, I decided to leave because of the situation I find myself in, I can’t find a job and every day it gets more complicated for me with the two girls” aged 11 and 1, Alberto told EFE in the center of Belém.

On March 15, she left with her youngest daughter for the United States after being fired from a maquila, because at 30 years old “she is already old”, but with a girl the trip was “quite complicated”.

“The trip was very difficult because I was alone, I traveled by bus, in a trailer, I had to sleep in the mountains, in abandoned houses,” she explained.

“All along the way I was asking God for help, to always put good people in my path and that’s how, with a push I got there, Mexicali”, Baja California, but it all ended when immigration intercepted them, deporting them. And to start again.

Source: Elcomercio

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