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Consequences of Trump’s ‘Stay in Mexico’ policy

People’s Tribune / Tribuno Del Pueblo  |  Issue: January 2020
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Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from fighters in Texas who spoke with the People’s Tribune and its sister publication, the Tribuno del Pueblo.

Carlos Marentes from the Border Agicultural Workers Project in El Paso

Media suddenly discovered El Paso after the killings, but it has been like this for years. What is different today is the level of militarism by the border communities, and what is also new is the cooperation of the Mexican government with the Trump administration.

Everyday we see busses of migrants apprehended at the border brought to a nearby installation for processing. Then busses cross from Mexico to El Paso and then take people back to Juarez.

So now we have close to 20,000 migrants stuck in Juarez [Mexico]. To add to the situation, white supremacist groups killed 22 people and injured 30. Some were members of our organization. We have denounced the presence for years of paramilitary groups collaborating with the Mexican government to contain migrants.

Those killings are presented as a terrorist act in a city called ‘safe,’ but this is not the truth. The violence and repression on the border communities has been present all our lives. El Paso has been compared to a laboratory for repression and military containment for any sort of discontent, like poverty.

So we have dedicated more time to organize the resistance of the migrant communities in the barrios where the majority are Mexican. It is important to understand that migration is an act of resistance. People are challenging the system that is waging an offensive against them. It is a war against the poor and working people throughout the U.S.”

Gabriela Zavala: from an asylum seeker network in the Rio Grande Valley and Matamoros, Mexico:

“People are sent to Mexico where there are no resources to await US immigration proceedings. Instead of connecting them with sponsors and family members on the US side, they are sent to Mexico. This is creating a homeless population in a dangerous area –people are sleeping in parks, in abandoned buildings, many with children. All are vulnerable to organized crime and drug traffickers. We’re seeing a level of desperation. The idea of US immigration policy is to make it more difficult for people to access the process. The policies create obstacles to getting legal assistance, which is why a main purpose for our center is to connect people with legal assistance [and other needs]. We are working with groups of volunteer attorneys.”


Drawings become migrant children’s cry for help

Dozens of children in Matamoros, Mexicos drew their experiences as part of an art project by Dr. Belinda Arriaga, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco who specializes in child trauma and Latino mental health.  Arriaga has given the Tribuno del Pueblo permission to print them.

“Their drawings become their voice,” Arriaga adds. “When they started handing me one-by-one their pieces, it was really jolting to see what they were drawing… the drawings help us understand the trauma that this country is inflicting on them.”

She traveled to Matamoros Oct. 19-25 as part of a group of volunteers who provided aid and psychological care to migrant children and their families.


immigrant child illuistration 1 of 4

Drawing by 9-year-old Genesis depicts crocodiles in a river near a vehicle she labelled “Policía.” Her family, in tears, are standing in Mexico, while her tía, or aunt, cries for them in the U.S. “Quiero irme de aquí porque no puedo ser felíz y no puedo dormir,” she has written on the drawing. “I want to leave from here because I can’t be happy and I can’t sleep.”


immigrant child illustration 2 of 4

“America, where they didn’t let me in,” writes 11-year-old Jose from Honduras in Spanish next to a picture of mountains and trees on a canvas in blue, green and brown colors. He also drew a river — the Rio Grande that separates him from Brownsville, Texas, where his family hopes to claim asylum. “La tierra prometida,” he writes. “The promised land.”


immigrant child illustration 3 of 4

An 8-year-old girl writes Yo le pido a Dios que llegamos a Carolina del Sur, or I ask God that we can get to South Carolina.


immigrant child illustration 4 of 4

Ivone, 7, draws herself in a cage while her tía watches across the Rio Grande river next to an American flag.

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