Migration a Crude and Worsening RealityBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 05/11/2020 - 13:34
The “American Dream” has, for many years, attracted Mexicans to the US, as well as many Central Americans and Latin Americans. The dangers of this dream are a true nightmare, which has been documented over the years by the media, films, documentaries and even books, all of them exposing the crude reality of the journey.
Migrants now face the threat of COVID-19 contagion and restrictive measures that endanger their survival in Mexico. Closing borders was one of the firsts preventive actions taken to avoid the spread of the virus, which left groups of people stuck at crossing points. Border locations usually have camps for migrants to stay until they can continue with their journey, but just as living on the streets, the camps lack proper sanitary conditions. Furthermore, these people do not have access to any type of healthcare, water, food or even self-sanitation.
Migrants, refugees, displaced people or asylum seekers are usually vulnerable and discriminated in Mexico and Latin America and these attitudes are now strengthening with the COVID-19 outbreak. These increased vulnerability conditions worsen as many asylums and migrant homes have closed following the Ministry of Health’s orders.
The International Organization for Migration warned that “If a widespread outbreak occur within any camp in the world, internally displaced people and refugees are likely to choose to escape again in search of a safe place, which could trigger a backlash from populations and local authorities and potentially lead to violence.”
As COVID-19 spreads in Mexico, authorities announced the expulsion of around 3,759 migrants staying at the 65 official reception centers in the country. However, the Central American countries to which they were sent back had already closed their borders, leaving migrants on the streets. In the US, ICE informed that there were 297 migrants positive for SARS CoV-2, which led many migrant defense groups to accuse the US of intentionally exposing undocumented migrants to the virus.
More recently, Mexican and US authorities have agreed to keep track of the confirmed cases on returnees to avoid a spread of the virus in the border city of Tijuana. While this agreement tried to avoid people with COVID-19 to return to Mexico, US legal measures are preventing any migrant from entering the country. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders have called on Mexico to retain migrants under dignified and safe conditions until the given authorities can arrange their voluntary return to their home countries.
The border situation has been a delicate subject for both Mexico and the US. While many question and fear the high numbers of contagion in the US versus the much lower rates in Mexico, the border remains under the spotlight, as commercial flows continues and as migration cases keep presenting. Migration organizations have urged both governments to act and regulate migrant conditions during the crisis as they consider that both sides have done little or just worsen the situation.