Justin Glawe, Daily Beast, January 8, 2019
Despite the risks, Freddy and Darel said they won’t be deterred by whatever President Donald Trump announces tonight.
“We just don’t care,” Freddy said, who asked that he and his son’s full names be withheld because Freddy has been previously deported. “We just want to make it. We can’t go back to Guatemala.”
As the nation waits to hear Trump’s first national address — which will focus on immigration issues and his misleading claim about a “crisis” at the border — migrants at Juarez’s Casa del Migrante spoke defiantly about all of the Trump administration efforts to deter them from seeking refuge in America.
“I just want to give a better life to my children,” said Benjamin Santos, a 28-year-old father of two from Guatemala. “I’m a little worried about the family we left there, but it will help when we get to the United States and can tell them we made it.”
Santos doesn’t plan to apply for political asylum, as many Central American migrants do. He was only vaguely aware of the concept, and plans to simply go to the Paso del Norte port of entry spanning Juarez and El Paso and try to cross with his wife, Magdalena, and children. Maria, 3, and Gaspar, just over a year old, clamored on their father’s knees and shoulders as he spoke.
Like Freddy, Santos didn’t know where he was going when he left Guatemala because he was using a smuggler. Polleros, the bosses of the coyotes who are the final fixers for migrants when they cross the border, control nearly all aspects of travel for many of the Central American migrants making their way to the U.S.
“All I ever hear from migrants is, ‘the smuggler told me where to go,’” said Taylor Levy, legal coordinator for Annunciation House, a non-profit in El Paso that works with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to secure temporary shelter for migrants who are released by ICE.
All of the Trump administration’s calls for migrants to stop or go to certain locations fall on the deaf ears of smugglers who have one objective: make money.
If a migrant dies in the desert or is arrested before they get a chance at finding a job and making a life in the United States, the smugglers still get paid, and there are thousands more migrants waiting with cash in hand.
Meanwhile, crossings on the U.S. southern border are sharply down. Last year, border arrests were at a 46-year low. While crossings were up slightly in 2018, they’re largely made up of groups of Central American families instead of individuals.
The government knew directing that surge of family migration to ports of entry would cause problems, but said those problems were “preferable to the status quo.” The families have encountered weeks-long waits at ports of entry and in some cases facilities that were never equipped to hold parents and their children. Finally, months after the self-imposed crisis began, the White House and DHS asked on Monday for an additional $800 million to “address urgent humanitarian needs” and create temporary shelters on the border, according to the Washington Post.