Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Chris Stone

Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a San Diego Online News Association member

Photo:  Many women and children from Mexico and Central America waited to see if they would be the next people allowed to enter the U.S. Photo by Chris Stone

June 24, 2018 (San Diego) - Natash waited in line Saturday morning to present herself to U.S. immigration officials at the PedWest Port of Entry, believing that America is the “best place where human rights are respected.

”The 26-year-old had traveled by herself for four months from the central African nation of Cameroon. She journeyed by bus for $13,000 through South America, Central America and Mexico, Natash said in English.

After waiting in a Tijuana shelter for 12 days, her day to register for asylum had finally arrived.

Asked what she would tell immigration officials, the slight, weary-looking woman said: “I’m just begging for a place, so I can have my life where they won’t kill me. My life is in danger.”

President Trump has characterized prospective immigrants as invaders, infesters. But who are the people along the Mexican border seeking to legally enter the United States?

Natash was one of 20 refugees lined up at 8 a.m. “waiting their turn,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed.

And while media attention has been on the separation of mothers and children, Sessions recently announced stricter asylum restrictions that may keep the door shut to those claiming threats of gang violence — the justification of many waiting in line.

Yet they come to the border each day with hope.

About 8:30 a.m. Saturday, more than 50 people gathered around a member of Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration, who was carrying a notebook with a list of names.

Thirty people had been processed Friday, and it was announced that 20 would be allowed to file for asylum Saturday. Earlier in the week, 40 were accepted.

So asylum-seekers daily go to the border port of entry and check where they are on the list. Others sit along a wall, hoping for luck — if the number of people accepted is increased.

During her solo journey to the border, Natash, who has stayed in a Tijuana shelter for 12 days, said “Colombia was very difficult.” She had to seek shelter in the jungle for 10 days, eating dead birds and small animals.

Asked how she was faring, Natash said, “When I left my home, I was very strong, but now I have pains in my chest.” She wants to join her cousin, who already lives in the United States.

Amnesty International has reported that armed separatists in Cameroon’s Anglophone (English-speaking) regions have stabbed to death and shot military personnel, burned down schools and attacked teachers, while security forces have tortured people, fired on crowds and destroyed villages.

Trump wants to restrict immigration to keep out MS-13 gang members, yet many of the asylum-seekers Times of San Diego met were themselves victims of the criminal group and hope to seek refuge in the United States.

Others shared their stories through an interpreter — Hugo Castro of Border Angels. (Their last names are left out for sake of privacy and security.)

The Salvadorans: ‘If you don’t risk, you don’t win’

Leticia, 22, huddled on the ground with her 3-year-old son Daniel. MS-13 members killed her father three years ago, and she said she now faced renewed danger.

Gang members tried to force her to deliver drugs from place to place in La Paz, she said. When she refused, they told her they would kill her and her son.

After fleeing El Salvador with her toddler, she hopes to seek safe haven in the United States. But she will have to wait a while longer as she is number 350 and the list was up to 260 on Saturday.

Leticia fears that she will be separated from her son in the United States, but had traveled this far to save his life and her own.

Sitting next to her on the ground were two neighbors who fled El Salvador so quickly they traveled without documentation. Yet they are hopeful for help.

Margarita, 27, said she and her friend Mercedes, 23, were nearly assaulted on their six-day trek by bus to Tijuana.

“We’re looking for a better life for us and our kids,” Margarita said in Spanish. “If you don’t risk, you don’t win.”

The Mexican family: fleeing death, eluding snakes

A family staying with friends outside Tijuana came to the port of entry to check their place in line Saturday. They discussed the threat that they fled.

Traveling as a unit, the father said he was forced to flee his ranch in Michoacán after armed criminals came through the area “taking everything of value.”

The criminals also were taking young children, said the dad, who didn’t give his name. Their son, 17, was asleep and the men didn’t notice him, the mother said.

The mother said the gang members in Michoacán put a gun to the head of her 19-year-old daughter.

The father said he received death threats to sell his avocado and cattle ranch to pay the criminal group.

Instead, he said, he fled through a snake-infested area, drinking his own urine to stay alive.

The father said he reached other family members and drove south with them, in the beginning being chased by gang members. His son drove their truck though one town to avoid the father being detected.

If he had left the area by himself, the father said, he is convinced that his family would have been killed.

The family has many relatives in San Diego and Los Angeles, and the father said he would love to work on a cattle ranch in the United States while his children get an education.

And their chance will come soon, as there were only 23 people ahead of him on the list to apply for asylum.

And yet, despite his claims of threats to the lives of his family, they face stricter U.S. entry rules.

Last week, Attorney General Sessions said: “Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum.”

Sessions said in a Board of Immigration Appeals case: “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”

So the fates of those standing in line are not as predictable as they once were. (Their next steps include a “credible-fear” interview with an American asylum officer.)

Yet their hope hasn’t diminished.

“All of us at a certain point need help,” said Mercedes, who fled with her child from El Salvador because she said she comes from a country that is very dangerous.

Asked her chances of getting across the border, she said, “We’ve been told there are good people and also bad people” in the United States.

But Mercedes and Margarita said they are asking for God’s help.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


The Trump and his administration bullies...

Should be quite proud of this latest achievement! Arresting an old man & a Rabbi nonetheless, protesting as allowed by law (or used to be) in a civil manner! This is sure to set a glaring example, and send a strong message to those who disagree with his lordship! What's next, calling in the National Guard to suppress and shoot people like they did at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio - May 4th / 1970? Trump has made remarks about how the police should get more aggressive. SHAME!

Are we the Baddies?

From “The Guardian”

It’s easy to be blase and say that the Republicans, far-right Tories, Fox News and Daily Mail have always been awful, but only someone with no knowledge of the early 20th century could fail to see the parallels between then and now: the dehumanisation of immigrants, the casual cruelties against the most vulnerable members of society, the nationalism promoted by politicians and their mouthpieces as being for “the people”, when it only benefits the wealthy members of the far right.

In 1940, Nazi propaganda described concentration camps as being like youth camps; today, Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham describes migrant juvenile detention centres as being “essentially summer camps”. In 1942, Jews were led into showers and gassed to death; in 2018, migrant toddlers are taken away from their parents by US officials who say they need a bath, only to ship them out to a “summer camp” thousands of miles away. Trump himself famously described a neo-Nazi rally in 2017 as being full of “very fine people”, yet we continue to be surprised by what he does.

He once looked like a joke: a reality TV presenter who couldn’t even get the better of a musical. But the hate he encourages is easier to spread than butter, and we don’t even notice it until it’s too late. Are we the Baddies?


"Insult everyone"?

Interesting viewpoint, yet there are others here, including yourself who constantly do the very same thing as you suggest I'm doing. Reflections in the mirror... https://www.cagle.com/will-durst/2018/04/trump-zombies.

Skeletons in the closet will emerge someday

Considering Trump's history of: wrongdoings, supressing facts, bullying, scare tactics, and so much more. I find it quite baffling that he became our president. I'd go on, but I really don't need to. Those of us who are informed, and have an open mind - know the truth. Besides, I have better things to do right now.


"I have better things to do right now" Like go on this website and insult everyone who doesn't share your thoughts or beliefs......attaboy, that'll teach em'.

That's my point Gramps

Spout your opinions all you want.
But your facts need to be just that.

Well now...

...at least my education has been enhanced further. Yet it would seem that my overall point was lost on some - as usual. But hey, it's cool. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Grandfather, you need a history lesson.

" claimed and inhabited by Mexico long before the Europeans showed up"?
There was no Mexico before Europeans arrived.
First the Aztecs, Mayans and Toltecs lived there, it wasn't called Mexico. Then it was called New Spain from the time Cortes landed in 1519 until 1810 when it became Mexico.


...what the Native American (Indians) felt emotionally, as the white man invaded America and systematically nearly destroyed an entire culture of these people, all across the U.S. The southwest was a land claimed and inhabited by Mexico long before the Europeans showed up and stole it, just like all the states. Seriously, how can anyone pass such negative judgement without being a racist? Shameful! How many naysayers eat food that evolved from a foreign land? I know that Mexican cuisine as an example, is very popular in this area and beyond. We should all be grateful to live in America and welcome those from other lands. The U.S. has always been a blend of culture, and it's a nice diverse place because of it. Our ancestors were all immigrants and I'm sure some were probably what we now think of as illegal. Then there's the many who were brought here by brute force... This is not Nazi Germany (that ended in 1945) with the Berlin wall (August 13th 1961 to November 9th 1989) separating human beings who seem to be considered less than human by some, nor should any similarity be shown.

Statistics don't lie...

And if you're going to continue to site CNN and the NYT, then Wayne Root should also be considered an acceptable source.

The NYT has won many Pulitzer Prizes for its reporting

that has met the highest journalistic standards of integrity in the world. While no newspaper is perfect, and mistakes happen on occaion, overall they are among the most highly regarded publications in the world for journalistic excellence ad fact-checking.

It is wrong to equate that to an opinionated blogger, columnist or commentator spouting opinions, not news.  News stories shouuld be vetted and fact checked, including letting readers know when a public official is not telling the truth, and covering possible consequences, negative and positive, of governmental policies, for example.  Pundits who fail to do that are not journalists, they are just talking heads.


And Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize...

You're entitled to your opinion, we'll have to agree to disagree. And for the record, my reference in the linked commentary was not aimed at one man's opinion, but the statistical facts therein.

The Nobel Committee came to regret that prize

but really they didn't have much basis for issuing it, I thought at the time. Obama had not been in office long, hadn't brokered any major peace accord, and later on was involved in escalating or initiating various military actions.

The Pulitzers by contast were award for solid journalism and dogged determination at both the NY Times and Washington Post.  If you saw the recent movie about Katherine Graham's decision regarding publication of the Pentagon Papers, you'd have an idea what reporters went through to put together a major investigative story.

It has become harder today to determine what is fact vs. fiction because there is so much "spin" put on things and some sites tend to cherry pick facts only to bolster their arguments or views, instead of trying to look at issues objectively.

Well, imagine that....

We've found some common ground. While I'll be happy to acquiesce that not everything printed within the pages of the NYT is fiction, they’ve been caught more than once printing untruths and citing questionable “sources”.  Although they typically publish corrections, people tend to read the headlines, not the fine print.

Less than a year vs eight of Stat’s for Statistical Fact Lovers

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Abraham Lincoln

Trump is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.


Sums it up nicely:

The Pope was visiting Washington, D.C. and President Trump took him out for an afternoon on the Potomac, sailing on the presidential yacht. They were admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat—his white zucchetto—blew off his head and out into the water. The secret service guys started to launch a boat, but Trump waved them off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry." Trump then stepped off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walked out to the Holy Father's little hat, bent over and picked it up, then walked back to the yacht and climbed aboard. He handed thehat to the Pope amid stunned silence. The next morning, the New York Times carried a story, with front-page photos, of the event. The banner headline read: "Trump Can't Swim."

Open borders will destroy this country.

“In March of 1993, The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Reno v Flores. (Yes, “That” Reno. Janet Reno, Bill Clinton’s first Attorney General who ordered that young Elian Gonzalez be torn from his family’s arms while hiding in a Miami closet. You might remember the iconic photograph.)

The Court in Flores decided that minors could not be incarcerated with the adults accompanying them across the United States border illegally. The decision was the result of a long dispute in how to best care for these children while the adults were detained for criminal proceedings.

You see, when aliens cross the border illegally, they are incarcerated until their criminal case is decided. The understandable argument at the time was “why should children be incarcerated while their parents are in jail?” It seemed a fundamental violation of international human rights. Makes sense, right?

As a result, The Flores case drew a line in the sand. Children could not be incarcerated with their parents or accompanying adult while being held for illegal immigration violations. And a subsequent 1997 agreement stipulated that children must be placed in a safer environment where they could enjoy certain privileges, including education, a clean, safe environment and other normal life cycle amenities that incarcerated individuals do not enjoy.

It was considered a “victory” for human rights. By separating adult and child, we protected the children, reducing any harm done to them for their parent’s or accompanying adult’s decisions.

A lot has happened since then. However; bottom line, these juvenile, shelters have been operating in accordance with the law, and overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services to protect those children from the hazards of parental incarceration since 1997.

So, since Donald Trump was running his real estate empire, selling wine and casinos in 1993, we are left to determine just how he managed to orchestrate this cruel “separation of immigrant parent and child” 25 years BEFORE he was President of the United States. The obvious answer is, he didn’t. He had nothing to do with establishing this United States immigration policy. Today, he simply enforces it.

This one story illustrates how important it is for us to do our research regarding today’s headlines. The Corporate Media either refuses to do the research, is incapable of doing the research or has done the research and decided to lie to you about its findings. Either way, this would make the Corporate Media lazy, incompetent or just plain deceptive. Liars, if you will.”

Imagine a world without borders...

....a world where everyone would accept one another, a world filled with people who loved and cared for our neighbors and strangers, a world where there was no hate. This land we live on here in America was once a beacon of light and hope for many of our ancestors who also traveled many perilous miles so they could live in peace and freedom. A land where dreams could be achieved. A land filled with many foreigners who call it home. Why are so many of us hateful towards the newcomers these days? Are they scared of these folks? Racism needs to be a word written in ancient parchment we no longer use. We should embrace our brothers and sisters with open arms, welcoming them, not pushing them away - back into the fire from which they escaped. PEACE