Deportations from the United States do not understand sanitary controls


Every day, Mexico receives dozens of migrants from a highly infected country with coronavirus.

The United States border police have returned several groups of migrants to Mexico, a few kilometers south, this morning. In the dark of the night, they have crossed the Rio Grande, crossed a canal with their arms raised to prevent the phone from getting wet, and started running towards McAllen among thickets and thorns, but they were fished. They come soaked and muddy to the ears and there are no metaphors here. The gun points at them one after the other and a little red dot lights up on their forehead: they don’t have a fever. Cough? headache? Shivering with cold, they listen to a speech about the risks of the coronavirus. Any asymptomatic can be contagious without knowing it. They have put some masks on them and they have given them a snack, a sandwich, water, an orange. America is your target, with or without viruses. Some of their relatives are already there and “a better life” awaits them. They repeat those three words without knowing what they will contain in the future. Not realizing that there is now a new enemy on the other side of the border that has already killed thousands of people. It doesn’t matter, they will continue to challenge the river one more night. And another. And the police will do the same.
Reynosa is also one of the deportation points for migrants, to the north of the State of Tamaulipas, which is scary just to mention it, thousands of people killed each year. If the “wet” or the deported move away from the migration center where they receive them in Mexico, they fall like rabbits into the hands of organized crime, which uses them in its service, kills them or kidnaps them for a few days in exchange for money they will pay the family that is already in the United States. The virus is for them a lesser evil. But Mexico is in suspense, because in a single month, thousands of returnees can irrigate the coronavirus through areas that are still free of it. Remote villages, isolated in the mountains, will receive the countrymen who left without knowing that the bug may have traveled with them. They are advised to quarantine upon arrival, but who will control that.
The virus is perhaps even a good opportunity to cross the border these days, Everardo thought. But what goes. “It is worse than ever, there are police everywhere,” he laughs. This morning, at around five, he was caught, near McAllen, the sister city of Reynosa on the other side of the fence. “What an adventure.” For him it is almost a game. In just a couple of weeks he has tried crossing six times. Either way. “As nothing happens to me, I trust myself,” he says. But the Rio Grande has left some of the world’s most dramatic photos in recent months, and a daily trickle of inert bodies barely takes up space on the news. Everardo is 18 reckless years and is a very handsome boy who lives with his grandparents in Monterrey, the capital of another northern Mexican state, Nuevo León. There his father is imprisoned; her mother and four little brothers already live in McAllen. It’s hard to believe that he won’t try again. Just for the adrenaline rush: “I was even chased by helicopter. Last night we were four ‘wet’ and the guide, we entered crouched down to a small parcel and we already heard the motorcycles, the cars… I was crawling 70 meters, but they caught us all; We were talking in the van, the policemen chatted with us, that if the shrimp are so rich… when the guide jumps and runs away, but they caught him however he wants ”, he laughs again while waiting on the porch in the center of migrants to pick up some relatives and dry his shirt.
Deportations and hunting of men at the border have not stopped these days, although the migrant contingents delivered by the Trump Administration in Mexican centers are now less numerous. Those in US prisons – or in detention centers because they have been caught without papers – may think that the coronavirus epidemic is not the best time to move from there. What are they going to do outside. Everything is frozen: businesses closed, streets empty, families quarantined. In Reynosa there are days that receive 100, 200 deportees. Today only 37 arrived. Although longing devours some of those who are in prison and on any given day, Mother’s Day or Christmas Day, they sign their departure: that they be returned to their land. Some have been caught without papers when they are practically gringos, with years of work on that side, a house owned and a family. Maybe with covid-19. Some almost find it difficult to speak Spanish. Those, before entering Mexico, will have already contacted a “pollero” to cross again. They’ll have to get their clothes wet again any night, like in Sisyphus’s worst nightmare.
The coronavirus and an order from the bishop have closed the Virgen de Guadalupe refugee center in Reynosa, with the capacity to accommodate 80 people in their beds. They only host an emergency, for example, the nine men who could not take the bus on time and wait for the next day. Three of them eat in silence on the patio, lentils and a chicken stew. They are from Guerrero, Veracruz and Michoacán, three of the States that add the most murders a year in Mexican statistics. There is a reason these young people have gone to find their hopelessness at Sister Catalina’s house.
The nun fears that the spread of the virus will intensify with this coming and going of people from one border to the other. “People from many states come here, of course it is a risk. In addition, they are mostly poor people, with few resources … We recommend that once they reach their homes they keep quarantine, but … There are some remote communities, in the mountains, that are almost a natural barrier to the virus, but if these men arrive and they are infected… In some poor areas the appropriate measures are not always taken ”, laments the nun. Behind her face mask, Sister Catalina adds: “I do not know who is responsible for closing these borders. At least they should have made a place to quarantine, “he suggests.
In the northern states of Mexico they do not spare criticism of the federal government and its National Institute of Migration, because if they are not going to modify the strategy before, the thousands of migrants established with Donald Trump at least ask them for sanitary measures against contagion. But none of that happens on the border. In the dependencies of the national migration center of Reynosa, there is not a single detection test for covid-19. In the face of such a vacuum, it is the State of Tamaulipas that has assigned health personnel for a first reconnaissance with the gun that measures fever, and several administrative officials take the data of the returnees and provide police escorts to the buses -this, yes, federal- where migrants return to their homes.
The shoes of a deported man, abandoned after being left in Mexican territory by the United States authorities.

The protection of the agents reaches the border with a new State, where the jurisdiction of Tamaulipas ends and that of Nuevo León begins. Everything so that organized crime does not throw the glove at the countrymen. They used to take them to the bus station and pay them the ticket back, but that left them exposed to violence in this redoubt of hell where a truck cuts you off and kidnaps you before you even blink. Much more to a migrant who lands completely disoriented, without knowing where on the map he is after hours of travel from anywhere in the United States. Perhaps one day they entered through Tijuana, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and now they return them through Matamoros, on the Atlantic border. It is not a coincidence or a whim, they are called cross deportations and they have authorship.

This month, the Tamaulipas migration center in Reynosa has served some 500 returnees, when in 2017 they were more than 2,000 in the same period, says its manager, Ricardo Calderón Macías. “They have also decreased the returns of the premises, who now, as they stop them as they pass, send them here.” Refers to night hunting of those who cross daily. More than 40% of the Mexicans returned by the United States enter their country through Tamaulipas. The coronavirus forces them to think fast. Calderón says they are waiting to install one of those sanitizing tunnels that, supposedly, disinfect when passing under them, but in some Mexican cities, like Monterrey, they have already removed them, after criticism that they were inane against the virus and perhaps harmful to health.

Each one invents what they can in the face of risks that are more than evident. The passage of migrants, those who accumulate to cross and those who return deported, is not the only alarm on this line of the map. Reynosa is one of those cities with a hybrid population. The paradox indicates that people mix more when there is a border in between, because each one wants from the other side what they do not have in their own. Proof of this are the dozens of dental clinics and pharmacies, plastic surgery centers and other specialties that exist in this city. Thousands of Americans take care of their teeth here because the smile is cheaper. That also cheers the coronavirus.

In Reynosa there has been a death and the infected number more than a dozen. As in other places, hospitals these days are conditioning even the parking lot to gain space for the extra beds they will need. “Viruses, the smallest, are giving us a lesson,” says the mayor of the city, with almost half a million inhabitants, counted in 2010. Maki Ortiz Domínguez affirms that the countrymen and those across the street already know that they should not cross except for essential things. Trust in the dissemination of messages from the federal and municipal governments. “With migrants, what you have to do is support them, because they are vulnerable groups, we are distributing food, supporting shelters with hygiene kits, we have allocated 60 million pesos from our budget. Each one must put the maximum, we ask the employers to pay their employees. ” Deportations from the United States also include hundreds of Central Americans who must cross all of Mexico to reach their home countries. These days are not just migrants, they are also potential viruses in transit. “There should be strong coordination, that each country take care of its own,” says the mayor.

At mid-morning, Mario’s van heads for Sister Catalina’s shelter, where nine men await who failed in their attempt to fly away. They get into the vehicle with their face masks and a bag of knickknacks to entertain the trip that a nun has given them. “Thanks for everything, mother,” is the only thing heard. The journey will be silent. Reyes Hernández, from Guerrero, Cristian Andrade, from Veracruz, and Juan Carlos, from Michoacán are in this contingent. They all left their wife and children at home. They assure that when they arrive they will be quarantined for the good of their families. They have been in prison, where the food, they say, even had worms. They also say they have no heart to try again. Cristian has crossed the river five times since leaving his profession as a driver to seek “a better life.” Reyes turns to his ranch, his corn and his calves. And Juan Carlos, to the kingdom of avocado, a product that crosses the borders to the United States without any problem. On this journey of just one kilometer to the bus that will take them to their destinations, they are escorted by a state police patrol. Halfway there, a cross stands in memory of the dead migrants. Organized crime kills more in this area than the Rio Grande. The virus has not yet shown its worst face. It has only put masks on all migrants.

A group of Mexicans who have been detained trying to cross the border.
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