The rumor is spreading around the pueblos! America is taking care of women and children.
The coyotes, people who help smuggle migrants across the border, and cartels are swarming in like vultures, scooping up their prey and escorting them by bus to the Mexican-American border, where they simply throw up a ladder and instruct everyone to climb up, jump into America and wait for Border Patrol to come along and rescue them.
So, of course, all the young vulnerable, migrant women who just got to America that I spoke with saw the Border Patrol as the heroes who came to assist them on their journey. They all said that when they saw Border Patrol, they finally felt safe and happy to have survived their harrowing odyssey to get to the Promised Land.
To this day, they don’t seem to grasp that they were apprehended. Once taken into custody, the migrants are given food and shelter, and deportation documents – which they keep referring to as their “papers.” After they are processed, the women with infants who claim to have family members in America are released – with documents that have a court date for a deportation hearing in a location near their kin.
Once the border-crossers have been processed by the Department of Homeland Security, they are released – so throughout the day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement delivers them to the Greyhound bus station where they are dropped off and forced to fend for themselves.
These are very poor, uneducated women who speak Indigenous languages, so when they arrive at the bus station all they can say is, “I’m going to Tejas!”
“Where in Texas?” asks the humanitarian aid worker.
“South Dakota,” announces another mother with a newborn in tow, not capable of naming any town in that state.
“Where are you going?” asks the exasperated volunteer from the Guatamalan embassy.
“Florida” replies the 19-year-old mother.
“What do you know about Florida?” he asks.
“Not one thing,” she replies.
All the women say they have never seen a city as large as Tucson, Ariz.
With a lot of heavy lifting by humanitarian aid volunteers at the bus station, the women are eventually put onto buses for their cross-country road trips. They will have to change buses many times to reach their final destination – but at the first stop in El Paso, they all look like they just got off a rocket ship on a strange planet.
Since they can’t speak a word of English, they are paralyzed. Every time the bus pulls into a new terminal, they have to change buses, and they are completely lost in space. Even though they were given directions in Spanish, many have real problems navigating from one bus to another. So it’s unclear how we expect them to get to a courtroom for an immigration deportation hearing.
How is the mother of two heading to South Dakota without a word of English or a penny in her pocket going to make it to Chicago on July 17 for her court date?
Still, everyone I spoke with planned on showing up for their deportation hearings because they believe when they simply explain to the judge that they came here to give their children a better life, they will be granted permission to stay.
As the 4th of July approaches, a romantic would say that Arizona and Texas are the new Ellis Island – where the tired, poor, huddled masses are arriving in search of a better life. But not all of these newcomers are heading toward the America Dream.