REYNOSA, Mexico – After crossing the Rio Grande to enter the United States, Alfredo cut his arms and legs on barbed wire delimiting several farms, finally reaching the American dream.
This dream, however, lasted only a few hours, as he was apprehended by US immigration authorities and returned to Mexico in a matter of days.
The 35-year-old Mexican is now being cared for by the Red Cross in the Casa del Migrante shelter in the border city of Reynosa, while he decides whether to try his luck again or rest after the ordeal.
Stories like his can be heard again and again in this shelter, which houses around 600 people every month, mostly deported Mexicans but also some migrants from Mexico and other countries attempting to cross the border.
Mexican returnees “come back depressed and sad, frustrated, and they can easily become ill while they are here recuperating,” Maria Nidelvia Avila, director of Casa del Migrante, told EFE.
The US, according to Mexican National Migration Institute (INM) figures, repatriated 166,986 Mexicans in 2017, of whom 14,069 were sent back at the border crossing in Reynosa, located across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.
Although the Mexican government has insisted that Mexico is now more a migrant transit country than a source country, the experiences of the migrants at the shelter are at odds with the official position.
Migrants do not hide the fact that poverty, the need to get ahead in life and even ignorance have led them to attempt to cross the border as unauthorized migrants.
Rosa Garcia, who is the only woman now at the shelter, traveled from San Pedro Pochutla, a small town in the southern state of Oaxaca, along with her 26-year-old uncle and 14-year-old cousin.
The migrants each paid $2,800, which they borrowed, for a place on a boat heading across the Rio Grande.
They were apprehended by the US Border Patrol and Garcia now hopes that her brother and brother-in-law, who live in the US, will help them pay what they owe, including interest.
Only 20 years old, Garcia’s innocence and lack of awareness of the trip’s dangers can give one goosebumps.
Asked if she knew anything about the dangers from gangs or whether she knew about President Donald Trump and his policies, her answer was a simple “no.”