Young families, many from Central America, who crossed the U.S. border seeking a better life, this week found themselves forced to head back south into Mexico.
They had hoped President Joe Biden would allow them and their young children to stay in the U.S. until their immigration cases could be heard.
Instead, many were promptly deported.
Some, such as Julia and her young daughter, are now stuck in a 400-bed migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez.
She wanted to be reunited with her husband and older daughter who, she says, are in the United States.
“I feel separated from my daughter (in the U.S.). I wanted to be with her. My daughter was happy, I was happy that I was to arrive. And when she heard the news (of my deportation), she became sad, now she’s sad and I am too.”
Julia did not give her last name.
She said she has all but given up hope of reuniting with her family.
She is now looking to return to her impoverished town in Guatemala, but with little money, she is unsure of how she will get there.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen like I had hoped. But thanks to God I am well, I am alive.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to enforce a Trump-era policy of returning most southern-border crossers to Mexico. About 70,000 were rapidly deported in February alone, according to CBP data.
The U.S. makes an exception in the case of unaccompanied children, who are permitted to stay. It has also permitted some families will young children to remain the U.S. if nearby Mexican cities cannot shelter them.
With the rising deportations, migrants are growing ever more desperate.
Disturbing video released by CBP last week shows adults scaling the 14-foot border fence and dropping two toddlers alone into the New Mexico desert.
A border agent operating the camera spotted the girls, sisters, aged five and three, from Guatemala. They were retrieved by police, taken for medical evaluation, and are being held at the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station.
U.S. authorities are working with Mexican law enforcement to identify those responsible for transporting the girls to the border.
They could be smugglers, or family members clinging to hope.
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