Last Chance – VG

Last Chance – VG

He’s the big brother, He really should have comforted his younger brothers.

He should have gone to the river first, and shown them that the river was not dangerous.

But he doesn’t dare.

Jorge (11 years old) sits and cries on the riverbank.

From there It sees brothers Enmanuel (7 years old) and Christians (5 years old) being placed in an inflated tire tube.

Father Ulises Rodriguez (29 years old) puts his arm around the youngest and tries to console his children.

They are then dragged terrified into the harsh waters.

On the way to the USA.

On the Mexican side Mother Daniela Castilla (34 years old) stands with her eldest son waiting her turn.

-Jorge has a fear of water. She explained that he almost drowned when we crossed a river on the border between Colombia and Panama.

The family fled economic collapse and dictatorship in Venezuela.

They crossed seven countries to get here.

Only one barrier remains. It is well guarded.

Rio Grande It is the name of a river in the United States. Rio Bravo del Norte is called “Rio Bravo del Norte” in Mexico.

In recent months, Greensylvania has been at the heart of the migrant crisis dividing the United States.

Border Patrol agents, Texas State Police and National Guard soldiers are now deployed to the border.

With patrol boats, military vehicles and electronic surveillance, they guard the American side.

New numbers From the American authorities it appears 2023 will be a record year For the number of migrants who are in contact with border guards.

The number has already exceeded 3.2 million, compared to 2.7 million last year.

Former President Donald Trump’s infamous wall covers a few areas along the border river.

Therefore, the river is where most immigrants now cross into the United States.

In parts of the riverbed, President Joe Biden has reluctantly agreed to build more walls now.

Red shows border barriers that have been reinforced or built under Donald Trump; The blue color shows where the Biden administration will now expand the border barrier. Graphics: Tom Bermoen/VG

In the small town Eagle Pass and the neighboring town of Piedras Negras in Mexico, the river is wide and shallow.

It is possible to cross here on foot, even if the current is strong.

On busy days, several thousand migrants cross here, and on average several hundred every day.

The riverbank is full of clothes and shoes thrown away by wet and tired migrants:

Texas State Make it as difficult as possible to get to shore.

After the sharp increase in the number of migrants, Governor Greg Abbott decided to extend barbed wire.

At the water’s edge, in several places in the river itself, a steel fence with small, sharp knife blades has been placed.

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It was used so-called Concertina wire – “Portable barbed wire barrier.”

Whistleblowers from State police They came out and said that this summer they received orders to push the migrants into the river, so that they remained stuck behind the wire fence.

Some of the migrants were so exhausted that they lost consciousness. Many suffered serious injuries.

Others were stuck in barbed wire for hours.

at the same During this period, many women and children died in drowning accidents when trying to cross the river.

The alarm was raised in Washington, DC

Federally controlled Border Patrol guards were asked to cut holes in the fence, making it passable in some places.

Now Texas has I went to court and got one Temporary ban Against the federal border guard who cut the fence.

– Governor Abbott declared that immigrants constitute an invasion of the United States.

Thus, his men could claim the right to enter private lands using rolls of barbed wire.

In some places, they entered into agreements with landowners. Walnut farmer Magali Urbina, who owns a large area downstream, was among those who agreed to erect the fence.

Now you feel cheated.

– I never went On this barbed wire, the 52-year-old farmer tells VG.

She and her husband grow pecans. Although they sympathized with the immigrants, they felt that it had become too much.

We have seen that migrants arrived exhausted and dehydrated. We saw people drowning in the river.

When state authorities explained that the fence would move the migrants to a safe collection point, they agreed.

– But now they don’t listen to me, they just adapt.

Texas Police They have made their own ways that raise dust. The crop has exceeded.

– I feel that we are stuck in a political game. Both the Biden administration and the Texas governor are using immigrants to pitch their policies.

The governor of Texas is now demanding that the state police be equal to the Border Patrol.

He also wants to change the law, so that immigrants can be arrested for trespassing and deported without being allowed to apply for asylum.

In theory it should Texas Police are cooperating with the Border Patrol.

But according to Magali Urbina, who is in the middle of the matter, there is a complete disconnect between the various agencies.

Most migrants who cross the border river are quickly taken by Border Patrol to determine if they have the right to apply for asylum.

Those from Venezuela are usually granted temporary residency as refugees, while most people from Central America are written off as economic migrants.

VG has noticed The border at Eagle Passe/Piedras Negras over two days.

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In the evening and early morning, we saw groups of migrants stopped by border guards.

Almost everyone received a temporary immigrant ID card issued in Mexico, which allows them to travel through the country. The cards are worthless in the United States and are thrown on the ground when migrants cross the river.

On dusty On a plain on the edge of a walnut plantation in Magalli Urbina, border guards detained a group of about 150 migrants.

They are divided into three lines: single men, single women and families.

As they were being led away, the men shouted from where they were at VG:

“Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela.”

despite of There is a majority of young, single men, and there are about the same number of families.

About a third of the migrants are women and children.

-We were terrified when we crossed the river. We put a blanket over the barbed wire and managed to reach the beach. “I was afraid that one of my daughters would drift away,” says Wendy Urbina Lopez, 29.

She has recovered He crossed the river with her daughters Catherine (6), Evelyn (9) and Mishu (11), along with her husband Sylvain (37).

“I held them all together in my arms,” he says, showing off his teddy bear fist.

20-year-old Chryseides came from Venezuela alone with three-year-old Mia.

The little girl rolls around her mother’s legs in her pink pajamas, looking frightened and confused.

– that it The young mother says having such barbed wire at the water’s edge is really dangerous.

Like everyone else who fled Venezuela, she made it through the Darien Gap, a dangerous jungle area between Colombia and Panama.

But the worst part was crossing Mexico, she says.

In theory, the United States and Mexico are cooperating to limit the number of migrants.

But then VG Heading from Eagle Pass to Piedras Negras, the Mexican Border Patrol is barely visible on the riverbank.

Three guards riding motorcycles. They point with a shaky middle finger that we shouldn’t take pictures.

Then they stop for a few minutes, before moving on.

Soon after, a group of about ten people came running towards the water.

Those who have to cross must do so quickly.

“Venezuela”they managed to say that to VG, before rushing into the river.

Under the strong current, the mother and father hold their child with both arms, so as not to be dragged away.

family group He wades too far into deep water, and has to turn around.

They form a chain in which everyone is connected to each other. A father takes his son on his shoulders.

Eventually they found a path where the river was shallow enough.

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American patrol boatsboth from Texas and from the Federal Border Patrol traveling back and forth along the river.

But the number of those who want to cross is too great, too desperate, and the boats do not intimidate them.

During the hours that followed the VG, the patrol boats did nothing but stir up the water and waves against the migrants.

It’s in Piedras Negras We meet Daniela, the mother of Jorge, an 11-year-old who is afraid of water, and his two younger brothers.

-We sacrificed everything to get here. It took three months. “We ran for money and we are completely exhausted,” she says.

Having come this far, nothing should stop them.

Neither the river, nor the barbed wire.

At least they’re not afraid of the armed guards on the other side.

-We survived The Mexican police are corrupt, brutal and greedy. It couldn’t get any worse, Daniela explains.

She admits that she is also afraid of water, while the father and their younger boy are being transported.

– I try to hide my fear, because if Jorge realizes that I’m afraid too, he will become even more insecure.

When Ulysses moved Enmanuel (7) and Christians (5), it was Daniele and Georgi’s turn.

Mother can’t Swimming and they must be helped in the same way as children.

Once they reach the other side, they crawl to the river bank. Ulysses is exhausted and falls into the river, but he quickly gets up.

The family then passes through a gap in the barbed wire.

A National Guard soldier directs them toward the border guard.

A few days later, VG spoke to Daniela on the phone.

-We live in a reception in Texas. She says there are a lot of people here from different countries.

She explained that they were asked to apply for asylum in New York.

-We got an agreement at the immigration office in New York on December 27, but no one is paying us for the flight. Social workers here in Texas say there are a lot of immigrants in New York now, so there’s a long line.

-What do you dream of in the United States of America?

– We accept any job, to provide our children with a stable and good upbringing. We will not return to Venezuela. It will be hard here, but not as hard as back home.

Watch the video below: How the family crossed to the USA:

On the border: photographer Thomas Nelson and American correspondent Nilas Johnsen.

Auden Cabello on the ground contributed to this report.

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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