JUAREZ, Mexico – Cuban migrants waiting their turn to seek asylum in the U.S. are finding some comfort at Little Habana, a restaurant serving homestyle Cuban food in this city on the border next to El Paso, Texas. Cristina Ibarra was operating a Mexican food restaurant called El Mariachi when she noticed the growing demand for Cuban food. She hired migrants who knew the authentic way to make the different dishes and opened Little Habana on Ramón Corona street downtown. The Cuban workers are grateful for an opportunity to earn enough to pay for their basic needs as they wait to hear from the U.S. about their asylum status.
Volunteers at Casa Vides, a shelter for migrants in El Paso, explain how the non-profit provides comfort for people trying to navigate the U.S. immigration system. Casa Vides is one shelter in a sanctuary network for refugees and homeless poor managed by the faith-based Annunciation House. This video story was produced as part of a collaborative reporting project with Borderzine staff and Youth Radio. http://borderzine.com/2018/06/summer-job-at-el-paso-migrant-shelter-proves-vastly-different-experience-for-notre-dame-students/
For years Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, has been a haven and a crossing point for immigrants coming from the south, but the uncertainty of new immigration policies under the Trump presidency is convincing some of them to remain at the border indefinitely. In 2015 the shelter received 5,600 immigrants. Last year the number increased to more than 9,000, officials said. Ana Lizeth Bonilla, 28, sways back a stroller back and forth watching her two year-old son, Jose Luis, as he sleeps. “Now, we’re just waiting for her,” the pregnant woman says as her arm rests on her baby bump.
Cuban refugees continue to seek asylum in the U.S., traveling from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso for a third straight week, with many staying in El Paso longer than expected, which could strain local organizations that traditionally provide services such as food, shelter and legal advice to immigrants. Elizabeth O’Hara, communications director of Catholic Diocese of El Paso, said about 300 Cuban migrants have been arriving each day since May 9 for a total of about 3,000 in the last three weeks. “Some of them will stay 24-36 hours, but now we’re seeing some of them staying longer,” O’Hara said, adding that the first wave of refugees seemed to be better off financially. “Most of the first ones to arrive had money left so they could bounce out of El Paso faster.”
That seems to be the case as well at the Ysleta Lutheran Mission, which is housing up to 80 refugees at a time. Karla Gonzalez, Ysleta’s chief operating officer, said most immigrants will just pass through El Paso on the way to family or friends in other parts of the country.
BROOKS COUNTY — For the first time, an aid group is deploying water stations in the Brooks County brush in an effort to prevent migrant deaths, and finding creative ways to work with private ranchers who don’t usually fling the gates wide for outsiders. It’s a fledgling movement — only two stations are in place so far — but the rising interest from human rights groups is another indicator of the mounting death toll. It is also a sign of Brooks County’s emergence as a kind of new Sonoran Desert, where water stations have long been a fixture in southern Arizona. As migration patterns and U.S. border enforcement strategies have changed, the migrant trail has shifted, too, leading them on foot through the county’s barren, 944 square miles of private ranches to avoid the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Falfurrias. Nearly 80 bodies have been recovered in the county in 2013, approaching the record 129 in 2012.
Translated by Roberto Perezdíaz
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EL PASO – A Juarez woman together with her husband affirmed in an immigration and political asylum forum that she was tortured and threatened by death by Mexican Federal Police. “Although we are safe and are still alive, we are nobody here,” she said before a hundred or so people while her face was covered by a black cloth to protect her identity. She spoke here Friday, April 27 at the Multi-Use Center of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral hosted by Annunciation House, an organization that offers refuge for immigrants and political exiles. “We sacrificed a lot to achieve our careers in Ciudad Juárez, and they (a group of federal policemen deployed to our sister city) destroyed them in minutes,” she said fighting her tears. The couple, whose names and faces remained anonymous for security reasons, fled Juarez City and took refuge in El Paso when some alleged agents from the above agency “picked them up” on two occasions.
SAN ANTONIO — After seeing a video online of struggling refugees in need of assistance to assimilate into the San Antonio area where that they have been relocated, Emmanuel Roldan decided to jump in and do something. Roldan, 22 and a full-time student, decided to start an organization, ServeSA, to aid refugees and immigrants of limited means who need help adapting to life in this Southwest U.S. city. “Our main focus is to really empower individuals and different organizations to serve the community they are located in,” Roldan said. When the organization launched in January of 2010, mainly worked with homeless individuals. But after it opened a center, Haven for Hope, in May of last year, its primary focus shifted from the homeless to refugees.