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Confusion, Fear Reigns at Mexico Border07/17 06:05

   Asylum-seekers gathered in Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Texas, 
grappled to understand what a new U.S. policy that all but eliminates refuge 
claims by Central Americans and many others meant for their bids to find a 
better life in America amid a chaos of rumors, confusion and fear.

   NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (AP) -- Asylum-seekers gathered in Nuevo Laredo, across 
the border from Texas, grappled to understand what a new U.S. policy that all 
but eliminates refuge claims by Central Americans and many others meant for 
their bids to find a better life in America amid a chaos of rumors, confusion 
and fear.

   The policy went into effect Tuesday and represents the most forceful attempt 
to date by President Donald Trump to slash the number of people seeking asylum 
in the United States. It denies asylum to anyone who shows up on the Mexican 
border after traveling through another country, something Central American 
migrants have to do.

   In some parts of Nuevo Laredo, migrants continued to trickle into shelters, 
including seven members of a family from the Mexican state of Michoacn, who 
fled the shootings and extortions in their violent region and were happy to 
find shelter even though some had to sleep in the hallway. They hoped they 
could get asylum because they did not pass through another country to reach the 
border.

   But about 70 mostly Central American migrants, who had crossed Mexico to 
reach the border, were returned to Mexico with an appointment with a judge 
tucked in a transparent plastic bag. Some bitter, they assembled in the 
National Institute of Migration facility next to the international bridge, with 
a cluster of women cradling children, men asking questions and small children 
running around under the watchful eye of parents.

   "They didn't deport us but they took us out (of the U.S.) in a bad way; in 
theory we wait for an audience," said Nolvin Godoy, a 29-year-old Guatemalan 
who has gone deep into debt paying a coyote almost $10,000 to take him, his 
wife and her 2-year-old son to get them across the Rio Grande to turn 
themselves in to U.S. authorities.

   After 10 days in a detention center in the U.S., they say they were given an 
appointment with a judge in September to begin the asylum process. Now they've 
been sent back to Mexico and hold out little hope of being able to appear 
before the judge on the date set.

   "Today the law fell on us and they are going to take us to Monterrey - 200 
kilometers from Nuevo Laredo - and we don't know what is going happen after 
that because we don't know anyone; I am sinking into debt," Godoy said.

   Mexican migration officials gave them food and a document that is a 
certificate guaranteeing them access to official programs but which does not 
specify which ones, though Mexico has said the returned will be able to get 
jobs. They received an official telephone number and email where they can get 
advice.

   Godoy, who says the stained shirt on his back is his only possession, 
believes it will all be worth little if he has no means of survival. "Maybe 
it's best to go back."

   No migrants dare to go outside the migration installations. "Outside is 
organized crime," he said.

   Dozens of people like Godoy were returned to Nuevo Laredo on Tuesday and by 
nightfall had been put on a bus with the only explanation that they were being 
taken to Monterrey, in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon. Most of them had 
reached the U.S. irregularly, and did not fit the profile of migrants who would 
wait in Mexico for weeks or months, sign up on waiting lists and then be called 
by U.S. authorities to process their asylum claims.

   Some said they had not originally planned to request asylum in the United 
States, and said the idea only occurred to them when they were offered the 
option.

   However, as late as Tuesday morning a group of 15 migrants, including four 
children,  showed up at the international bridge because their names had come 
up on the list that has long been used to allow migrants to request asylum. The 
idea that the old process might continue to work gave some hope to migrants 
like Linerio Gonzalez, 24, and Ana Paolini, 20, who fled Venezuela for 
political reasons. It was unclear if the new measures would change things for 
Venezuelans like them.

   "It drives you to desperation," said Gonzalez.

   "You hear a lot of things, but we don't know," Paolini said, adding that the 
prospect of being able to file for asylum, only to be returned to Nuevo Laredo, 
fills her with fear.

   Rev. Julio Lpez, director of the Roman Catholic shelter Albergue Nazaret, 
said the border was in the grips "of a lot of confusion because of all the 
changes."

   Lopez said the situation had become worse for migrants, and immigrant 
traffickers were likely to be the only winners.

   On top of it, more deportees might be expected from the planned raids in the 
United States, something that could overwhelm shelters.

   "Added to all this is now the uncertainty about mass deportations, that 
could put our shelters in a difficult position," said Rev. Lopez.


(CZ)

 
 
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