The pieces of paper these nuns carry reveal the hidden stories of the US-Mexico border

“It’s a life, every one of them,” Pimentel says.

Pimentel, one of the most famous immigrant lawyers in the Rio Grande Valley and the director of Catholic trusts in the region, helps run leisure centers and faith-based shelters such as the Renault’s Santa de Vita on both sides of the border, taking care of thousands of people. People.

It is shocking to see the results of the border towns. Shelters are full of distrustful people. There are also tent cities where some people sleep with only tar on their heads not knowing where the next meal will come from.

They are in a situation where they create vulnerable immigrants – many of whom are fleeing violence and extortion in their own countries – and are easy prey for criminal organizations.

But their situation could soon change: the Biden administration’s latest announcement that it will lift public health restrictions on the border means that immigrants are more likely to cross without facing immediate eviction.

According to Pimentel, more than 7,000 migrants, mostly from Central America and Haiti, are waiting in Rhinoceros for Title 42. He has been in contact with the port director of the Hidalgo International Bridge and is coordinating a safe route for them – details are still being developed, Pimentel says.

Once a week, Pimentel meets Santa de Vita. She does not know why the immigrants hand over the notes to her, but she takes their stories and pleas for help to the God she calls “the boss”.

“I tell my boss, I say, ‘This is your people. You have to guide me, tell me what I can do to help them. If you think we can, show me the way,'” Pimentel said.

Now, there is hope again among those in the shelter – to put an end to their painful wait and finally, a shot at the American dream.

Nearly 10,000 cases of violence against immigrants

Many of the refugees were evacuated by US immigration officials to the foot of the international bridge connecting Hidalgo, Texas and the Rhinos of Mexico. According to Pimentel, this is a dangerous plaza.

“This is an unprotected place,” he says. “Children are not safe; they can be taken away (abducted) or the juvenile can be raped.”

The woman, an immigrant from El Salvador, called CNN Matilde, cries while talking about the plaza. (Pimentel asked CNN not to mention the names of immigrants because of the dangers they face in Reynosa and their home countries.)

Plaza was captured a few months ago by masked gunmen, Modild says. He describes his 9-year-old daughter trembling with fear when the acquisition comes out.

Although time has passed, Modil still finds his daughter responding to the shock of the day, he adds.

“Sometimes when she’s asleep, she’s trembling, jumping in fear. Trust me, we’ve encountered (and) many things in the plaza during our trip,” he says.

We expect a large increase in the number of immigrants on the US-Mexico border.  But this method is different
Since the inauguration of President Biden, Human Rights First has identified nearly 10,000 cases of abduction, torture, rape, or other violent assaults on people detained or deported to Mexico under Article 42.

In the early days of the epidemic the Trump administration put Headline 42, arguing that the policy would prevent the spread of Govt-19 – questioned by some public health experts. Many lawyers expected President Biden to rescind the order once he took office, and his campaign promises to create a humanitarian settlement system were given. Instead, his administration defended the controversial policy in court for several months.

According to Sister Norma Pimentel, the Santa de Vita shelter in Rhinosa has been in operation for almost three decades.
Officials announced that the policy would be scrapped until March 2022 – more than a year since he became president. This has caused concern among American politicians on both sides of the aisle, who fear the Biden administration may not have enough plans to handle the expected increase in immigration to the border.

But here in the rhinoceros, time is a major concern for asylum seekers. Pimentel says immigrants face danger every day and there is not enough shelter to keep them safe.

According to Pimentel, the number of migrants in the rhinoceros is fluid and varies from day to day. He estimates that about 3,000 immigrants are currently staying in the plaza – some with only a tar to protect them from other dangers in this border town.

Helping immigrants build new shelters while waiting

The face of a Honduran woman glows, and she proudly shows off her spade. While waiting for the opportunity to enter the United States – with a capacity of 3,000 – he is part of a team of immigrants helping Pimentel build a new, larger shelter.

“For me, it’s a pleasure to help others,” says the woman who calls CNN Nora.

Nora says she escaped from Honduras because one of her daughters was badly beaten by a mob and lost the baby she was carrying. “I had to leave my house,” Nora says in a broken voice. “I don’t own anything.”

Pimentel says the team of expatriate construction workers who helped build the second shelter will get up at 5 a.m. and begin their full-day shift.

He has been waiting at the border for more than a year to raise topic 42, Nora says.

Recently, he says, he noticed the rhinoceros’ condition begin to change.

Previously, most of the settlers in Senta were from Central America and Mexico. In recent weeks, Nora says, Ukrainians have also begun arriving in Senta – after waiting a few days they were allowed to cross the border.

The refugee crisis is much bigger than in Ukraine
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently issued a memorandum to border officials to consider granting an exemption from Title 42 to Ukrainians. The United States has been criticized for using double standards: allowing Ukrainians inside and forcing desperate and deserving immigrants to wait. The head of the DHS has denied the allegation.

Nora says she saw Ukrainians entering the United States long before thousands of people from Central America, Haiti and other countries had been waiting for months. But Nora says she does not object to the exception.

“We are only threatened by mobs,” Nora explains. “In Ukraine, there is war.”

‘Give us a chance’

For other immigrants, the long wait can be devastating.

A woman gives a piece of paper to Pimentel and cries. “I didn’t realize the American dream was going to turn towards this,” he says.

Pimentel listens intently as the woman explains that she left her home country to reunite with her 17-year-old son in North Carolina. He says his son wants a better life in America – what else can a mother do?

The woman’s parting words were a message to President Biden: “Give us a chance.”

Biden is trying to list a new route on the US-Mexico border, but there are similar obstacles

She folds a piece of pimentel paper and tucks it into a zippered wallet she wears around her neck, along with the countless messages she receives.

“I hope someone can hear their story and hear the fact that they are hurting, and they need protection,” Pimentel says. “That’s all they ask.”

Catherine E. of CNN. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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