Eyer Mauricio Mancia Arana, of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, is a guy who knows how to solve his problems. She is 35 years old and has been living in Hillsborough, North Carolina, for just under 6 years. He works in housing renovations, sometimes as a DJ and, in the absence of English, uses Google translator to fill out the papers he is asked to do in his asylum application process. «The judge asks one to look for a lawyer, but I don’t have a lawyer,» he says from the United States.
The precariousness is having to use the Internet to complete documents that can determine your life forever.
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Figures say Eyer Mauritius is unlikely to be accepted in the United States. According to a report by syracuse University, with data collected during fiscal year 2018 in that country, only 21.2% of Honduran sought-after applications are accepted. That is, eight out of ten people who ask for protection are returned to their country.
The same fate is run by Salvadorans and Guatemalans: they only accept 23.5% and 18.8%, respectively.
All countries in the North Triangle of Central America are below the acceptance average, which is 35%. Even with fewer people who are recognized for refuge is Mexico. Only 15.5% of Mexicans who applied for asylum in the United States were granted asylum in 2018.
Despite appearances, Eyer Mauritius represents the sector of those who succeeded in the migrant caravan from Central America. A year ago he endured all kinds of hardship with a goal in his head, crossing into the United States, and he succeeded.
On October 12, 2018, 200 people gathered at the San Pedro Sula bus station in Honduras. It was the origin of the caravan. Over a month and a half, thousands of people (estimates of human rights organizations and activists who participated as observers speak of 10,000 in four marches) crossed Mexico to the United States.
There are no figures on how many were successful, how many were deported and how many ended up settling in Mexico. In fact, the caravan was used as an argument by Donald Trump’s administration to tighten controls and seek deals such as the one signed with Mexico for Mexico to hold on to. However, the increase in the number of border stoppages is later.
According to Border Patrol data, in October 2018, 51,855 people were arrested trying to gain illegal access to the United States; in November, 50,748; while in December the figure fell to 47,979. It was not until March, five and a half months after the caravan reached Tijuana, when the numbers began to multiply: 92,833 in March 2019; 99,274 in April and 132,859 in May.
This figure begins to fall in June, with 94,904 arrests. This is the month in which Chancellor Marcelo Ebrard travels to the United States to seal his deal with Donald Trump.
Eyer Mauritius is part of the Statistics for November, when he decided to jump the wall and surrender to the Border Patrol.
The caravan served to cross Mexico, but not to cross the border in a group.
That was clearly seen by the Honduran when he first crashed into the wall in Tijuana. He walked hand in hand with his son Ezekiel, then 5, when they arrived at Playas. At that moment he knew that the fate of both would be played alone.
2,800 Mexicans died trying to cross the US border in the last 10 years
Mancia Arana had a plan: jump the fence and surrender to the border patrol. It assures the man who has proof that his life is in danger. That he was extorted by gang members and that he has the records of the threats. He took a beating and death threats. So his hope was to tell all this to the judge and for the judge to take pity on them.
Homicide rates in Honduras are among the highest in the world. In 2018, 40 murders per 100 thousand inhabitants. In Guatemala, the rate is 22 per 100 thousand, while in El Salvador there are 51 homicides. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers a «violence pandemic» at an rate of 10 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. According to this rule, the Northern Triangle of Central America is sick with violence.
On November 15, father and son decided to try their luck. They had already waited a long time and heard the rumours that the bulk of the caravan was approaching. More people meant the border was warmer.
They looked for a place to camouflage theself, and when they saw the jump safe, they crossed the wall and entered American territory through an undetermined point between Tijuana and the Rumorosa.
Father and son jumped the fence and were arrested. They remained locked up for a few days until a judge released them. Now they’re waiting for the painful process in which an American official decides whether he thinks your life is really in danger or sends you back to your country. The important thing is not whether or not your life is at risk, but that he believes it.
While they await their next appointment, which will be in May, father and son are settled in Hillsborough County, North Carolina. The eldest, working for a salary of between $75 and $90 a day. The little one, schooled in an American school.
They were both lucky, very lucky. When they decided to jump the fence, Donald Trump’s plan for asylum seekers in the United States to have to wait in Mexico was not in place. The first returnee arrived in Tijuana on 30 January. If Eyer Mauritius and Ezekiel had crossed now, chances would they have had the same fate. No family network, vulnerable, with an appointment for months later, trapped in a city like Tijuana, which in 2018 was rated as the most violent in the world by the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP), due to its more than 2,500 Murders.
Neither father nor son wants to think about it now. They are in the American dream and, although they endured difficulties, Eyer Mauritius says it was worth it.
«The United States is very beautiful, the economy is good and it gives more money than in Honduras,» he says. Your child is in school and your classmates’ parents help you with shelter paperwork. Both have found the home they were denied in St. Peter’s, even with the sword of deportation pending on their heads.
«When you come here you lose everything: family, friends»
Jony Hernandez spent nearly a month at the border trying to cross into the United States. He’s from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, barely over 30 years old and can’t stop talking about the three daughters he left behind so they could have a better future. This is one of the most terrible migrant paradoxes. Marching for the love of your children means condemning yourself not to see them in a long time.
«When you come here you lose everything: family, friends. We spend the day locked up, we’re slaves,» Jony says. He’s just come home from work and there are days, many days, when he’s lonely. I used to live in Tegucigalpa and now in Alexandria, Virginia, United States.
«Being away from my children, from my family, it’s hard. But at the end of the road everything has its reward,» he says.
Jony also used the caravan to reach the northern border. But he had a plan: to cross Mexico as a group and then hire a chick. In principle, the Mexican side had to be saved, where a lot of money had to be spent bribing officials of the National Migration Institute (INM) who look the other way when the undocumented people who have passes cross.
He recounts from the United States that, when he arrived in Mexicali, he decided to turn around. The border in Baja California was very hot and relatives suggested he head to Caborca, Sonora. There the chicks have an important industry and every day dozens of Central Americans are trying to reach American soil through the desert, dressed in camouflage clothing and food and water for several days.
Some never come back.
Jony almost didn’t come back. He spent two days walking through the desert with no idea where he was going, beyond vague directions given to him by a chick that didn’t even go with them.
The Honduran tells us that the «mafia guide» became ill and that, out of sheer coffers, he and two other Salvadorans threw themselves into the desert. They had been in a safe house for several days and were fed up. So they played it. According to Jony’s account, in the middle of the road they met another group, one led by a pollero from a different organization than they had previously paid for. So they had to scratch their pockets again. It was to join the group or get sold in the desert. It was living or dying and, in this case, his life was worth three thousand dollars.
In the end, they got it. Jony Hernandez is a paperless worker in the United States. A guy with no labor rights who spent almost five thousand dollars to be what he is now: cannon fodder for precarious work.
Despite everything, he feels safe. He says he doesn’t feel the danger of being deported. That if you don’t cause reel, you have nothing to fear.
In your case, your life is dedicated to making money. He worked at a company owned by a Salvadoran, then at a painting company and now as a maintenance staff, again with the Salvadoran.
In Tegucigalpa he earned $500 a month at Wallmart. In Alexandria, he earns between $900 and $1,200 a fortnight.
According to World Bank data, six out of 10 Hondurans are poor. Also six out of 10 Guatemalans and three out of 10 Salvadorans.
Finding a better life and sending money to his family is why Jony got into a room with three other Hondurans. Squeezed in a quarter of three meters by three meters, as if they were pieces of the Tetris. Now he’s renteda house.
After a year it’s time to take stock. Because in migration stories, too often we stay at the gates of paradise, which in Central America call it the United States, but we forget to know what happens next. Success is crossing, but then there’s a whole life ahead of it.
Jony is honest: «I don’t know if I’d do it again. In the desert I said that if I went back to Honduras I wouldn’t go again. But you get used to the way you live from there, in America.»
The road was difficult. Adaptation, too. There is no peace for those born on the wrong side of the world.
«The worst thing is loneliness. Discrimination by Americans, too, though not all.»
No one knows how many of the caravan members were successful, like Jony. He made his own calculation. «Of 100% we managed to enter a 15, a 20. Families with children if they came in,» she says.
Was it worth it? «It was the opportunity, a ticket to climb without risking being kidnapped or without climbing the Beast. I used it as a bridge so I wouldn’t risk it,» he replies.
That was the idea from the beginning.
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