Deported to Guatemala, migrant minors reunited with their parents:

Dozens of children and teenagers melt into long hugs with their parents at a shelter in Quetzaltenango. Their perilous solo journey to the United States as migrants has just ended in failure after their deportation from Mexico to Guatemala.

From the white bus with Mexican license plates which parked Thursday in front of the Nuestras Raíces public shelter in Quetzaltenango (southwest), a four-hour drive from the Guatemalan capital, disembarked 59 repatriated minors.

“These 14 days that we were without seeing her, without knowing anything, it was terrible,” says José Mauricio, 33, who is expecting his 16-year-old daughter.

Their identities are masked. José’s daughter left her hometown of Coatepeque a month ago and they discovered she had been detained in Mexico for 14 days. She traveled with a cousin, and both were deported.

Authorities identified the minors, located their parents by phone and called them for an interview to confirm the relationship.

When José sees his daughter, he hugs her to his chest. Despite the pain of having to separate, José believes that there is no other choice but to migrate from this country where 60% of its 17 million inhabitants live in poverty.

“In Guatemala, there is no way for her to survive with her studies. It was the decision that was made for her to be someone important in life. It was difficult, it’s the only option because here it’s not possible”, laments the father of the family.

Minors are the most vulnerable migrants, according to Save The Children: “The migration crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean affects tens of thousands of children and adolescents who, leaving their country without being accompanied by a responsible adult , become one of the most vulnerable groups. exposed to threats and violations of their rights.

A U.S. federal judge ruled on Friday to uphold Title 42, an executive order from former President Donald Trump’s administration that allows for the immediate deportation of migrants seeking asylum at its southern border.

Title 42 does not apply to unaccompanied minors (unless they are Mexican), which is why many Central Americans choose to send their children alone to the United States in search of a better life.

They suffer a lot

Although they won’t admit it in public, the parents say they pay up to 150,000 quetzales (nearly $20,000) for their children to migrate. To do this, they go into debt or a family member from the United States finances the operation.

The prices depend on the type of equipment. “They offer with hotel, without hotel, there is a variety”, explains Maripaz Lopez, the manager of the refuge, according to what she hears from the migrants. Some travel packages include three arrival attempts.

But along the way there are endless difficulties. “They undergo many situations, they are left without food, they walk at night (…) They suffer a lot, they undergo robberies, assaults, assaults and sometimes sexual violence”, explains Lopez, who receives every week about 150 minors deported to the refuge.

This group of deported minors was found in “safe houses”, homes where human traffickers hide undocumented migrants until they can get them across the US border.

Lopez says that when things go wrong, smugglers call family members living in the United States to extort money and, when they get the money, turn the child over to Mexican immigration for deportation.

One of the rescued groups went so far as to recount how the traffickers placed tigers on the door of a safe house.

“We had very difficult cases,” admits Lopez.

Separation of families

Norma Pérez, 32, lives in the United States and managed to send her seven-year-old daughter from Guatemala. When the operation failed, she had to travel to her native country to receive her at the shelter.

“It didn’t happen, I was waiting for her there, I don’t think I would try again. A great sorrow was taken from my heart, I saw her and she is fine. For her, I left and for her, I am here,” he said.

The purpose of the trip is to pursue those dreams, he says. “But on the road, we don’t know what’s going to happen, many are risking their lives,” Perez said.

“You feel worried when you don’t hear from him, but as soon as you know he’s coming back, you feel happy because they’re healthy and well,” says farmer Lorenzo Rodríguez ( 49 years old), who is expecting her 15th birthday. old son.

Rodríguez is from the town of Canillá, in the Quiché region, one of the poorest regions in the country.

“We are living through a very critical calamity and that is why we decide to go elsewhere. Not everyone is lucky. For those who are lucky, they manage to get out of it, others find the dead,” he says.

“Don’t be fooled by the American Dream, because the American Dream is separating families right now,” says the shelter manager.

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