So far this year, 2,170 migrants accepted the government’s offer of a free ride home. Most of them went back to Central America by bus but a handful got plane tickets to more remote destinations.
Migrants who either never made it into the U.S., or who were detained, processed and sent back to Mexico until they have their day in court, have been getting tired of waiting in Juarez. They decided to give up and go home.
The International Organization for Migration is run by the United Nations using $1.65 million of U.S. taxpayer funds. The money gets shelled out by the State Department. For the past 10 months, their Assisted Voluntary Return program has been paying for bus and plane tickets.
Last week, 24-year-old Denia Carranza decided to take her 7-year-old son back to Honduras. She left her “good job” with a shrimp packer “after gang members threatened to kill her if she did not deal drugs to fellow employees.” That isn’t enough to qualify for asylum.
She was sent back to Mexico to wait for her court date. Without a job or any way to provide for her son,”she was frightened” in Ciudad Juarez, known as a “battleground for drug cartels.” She was scared to go back to Honduras but “more afraid to stay.”
The vast majority went back to Honduras — roughly three fourths. Twenty percent returned to El Salvador, with the rest headed for Guatemala and Nicaragua, statistics confirm. About half were classified as “family units,” and nearly 100 were “unaccompanied minors.” A handful never even made it as far north as Mexico, they gave up while still in Guatemala. The IOM has been posting signs and warning migrants along the caravan routes that Barack Obama’s red carpet has been rolled up by President Donald Trump.
Christopher Gascon, head of the IOM’s Mexico mission, explains that since last fall, the IOM has been working on ways to counter the “misinformation about how easy it was to get into the United States.” They even “set up kiosks at a stadium in Mexico City.” The stadium is one of the stops on the “caravan” route. The efforts have been paying off, Gascon notes. “When they saw the reality, some decided to go home.”
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Gascon assures that “his agency screens all participants to ensure they are not seeking U.S. asylum and want to go back.” While some of the migrants who take the free ride home might be missing out on a chance to claim asylum, the odds are against it.
Under the Trump administration, courts end up denying most asylum claims brought by Central Americans because many are fraudulent. The ride program “provides a safer and more humane means of return than the migrants could arrange on their own.
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