Current News

/

ArcaMax

Confined to US border camp, Haitian migrants wade to Mexico for supplies

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“They would be better off there. The buses are coming to deport us at any moment,” said construction worker Gabriel Valdeim, 32, as he carried water, yogurt, fruit ices and two chicken dinners back to his wife and 2-year-old son.

He said U.S. immigration officials at the camp called his ticket number Monday, 409, but his family didn’t board the bus.

“I’m afraid of being sent back to my country. It’s getting worse every day and America knows it, the politicians know it,” he said.

He had 200 pesos left, about $10. On Tuesday, he hoped to contact his aunt in Louisville, Kentucky, or an uncle in Miami to ask for more.

Immigrant advocacy groups and some lawmakers have objected to how the Border Patrol has treated migrants at the camp. Monday afternoon, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection boat zoomed up to the crossing, but didn’t stop the migrants. Eight Border Patrol agents arrived on horseback and stood guard as others pulled the boat up a ramp and away. They watched as migrants carried supplies to the Mexican riverbank, some balanced on their heads, then climbed down into the water and waded across. Then they left.

Still, migrants said they worried U.S. or Mexican officials would close the crossing this week, after they blocked another shallower spot atop a dam farther west over the weekend. As 4 p.m. approached, they hustled back.

 

Construction worker Frantzo Darios carried bags loaded with all he could afford for his wife and 2-year-old son Juan: Two meals of chicken, rice and French fries, cookies and juice. He said two months ago they left Chile, where like many at the camp they had lived for four years, after being threatened by gangs. The journey cost his family $8,000. He had hoped the Biden administration would allow them to join relatives in Wellington, Florida.

“Now, with the deportations they’re doing, there’s no hope,” said Darios, 35.

He had 400 pesos left. His son has a cough, but he can’t afford medicine, and there’s no clinic in the camp. Did he plan to cross again Tuesday, and what would he do if U.S. or Mexican officials closed the crossing?

“I’m not sure,” he said, “I’m not sure of anything.”

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.