Them racists Mexicans…
David’s story begins and ends in Retalhuleu, Guatemala.
He left his hometown Aug. 2 with hopes of a good-paying job and better medical treatment for his son’s crooked broken wrist.
He returned 52 days later exhausted, dirty and more than $19,400 in debt.
“This is going to stay with me. This is going to stay with me as an experience to not go to the United States,” said David, 31. “I tell people what has happened to me so they don’t do what I did.”
Tens of thousands of migrants who have made the 1,000-mile journey to the U.S. in search of refuge have been sent back into dangerous Mexican border cities while they await court hearings on the U.S. side.
After months in limbo, a lot of them are returning home, their dreams of a better life here dashed by the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program.
At the Good Samaritan shelter in Nuevo Laredo this month, David and Edin, his 10-year-old son, said they were repeatedly kidnapped by gangs and detained by the U.S. Border Patrol.
“I’m scared. I’m scared that something is going to happen to my son — mostly for my son,” said David, sweating through the red shirt he’d worn since he left Guatemala. He asked that his last name not be used.
“As long as God has given me the gift of still being here alive, it’s better I go back home to my family.”
His wife and 6-year-old son had stayed in Guatemala. Over two months, she sent thousands of dollars in ransom to gang members who had kidnapped David and Edin, placing the family deep into debt.
David hired smugglers to take him and Edin from Guatemala to Reynosa, the Mexican city across the border from McAllen. It took them six days. He said they were trapped in a box in a tractor-trailer on one 10-hour ride. At a stash house in Monterrey, they were shoved in a cockroach-infested room full of migrants for days.
Once they arrived at the border, David went through “a nightmare I could never have imagined.”
He was kidnapped and arrested, held by gang members on one side of the border and by Border Patrol officers on the other. One night, he’d be at a stash house; the next, at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.
He was tossed between northern Mexico and South Texas, crossing the border four times and getting returned to Mexico by U.S. authorities each time.
Sometimes he crossed the border into the U.S. out of fear, to escape the gangs and avoid getting kidnapped again. Other times, he said, cartel members who’d kidnapped him forced him to cross the Rio Grande as a diversion so others a few miles downriver could cross and evade capture.
After more than a week in captivity, David’s family in Guatemala paid the kidnappers $15,000 to free them.