~ by Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) Father Hector Maldonado of El Buen Pastor Parish in Apancoyo, El Salvador, said he recently tried to convince a family of five from his parish, who told him of their plans to leave [for the U.S. border], not to undertake the dangerous journey.
They sold all their possessions, the Catholic priest said, and he told them what he had heard and read: that people were being turned away at the border. But the family seemed intent on chasing the dream of entering the United Sates despite the dangers, full of hope because of the rumor that U.S. President Joe Biden had said that he would allow anyone who entered the U.S. within the first 100 days of his presidency to stay. The rumor is rampant.
The only this that Fr. Maldonado could convince them of, in the end, he told Catholic News Service (CNS), was not to turn over the deed to their house to smugglers as a down payment. The family needed to have a place to return to if they were deported, he told them.
Scalabrinian Father Mauro Verzeletti who works with migrants in Latin America told CNS that he thinks the rumor of a border open to all began because of a mixed message sent by the Biden Administration when it announced a 100-day moratorium on most deportations.
“I think Biden sent a confusing message with the moratorium and others changed the conversation to say ‘the border is open,’” said Fr. Verzeletti.
And now it’s a message that is hard to reverse, he said.
Some smugglers have taken advantage of the rumor, offering among their services a drop-off of families and unaccompanied children and teens to border agents, telling them the agents will process them and allow them to stay in the U.S. as long as they turn themselves in.
At the migrant shelter he operates in Guatemala, Father Verzeletti said he has seen in recent days an increase in people fleeing as the consequences of multiple crisis are hitting Central America.
Crop destruction from storms produced by climate change, the pandemic’s destruction of small and medium businesses, and political upheaval in parts of Central America has accelerated the movement of people from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua as they flee poverty and hunger, Father Verzeletti said.
Migrant houses run by the Scalabrinian religious order and other Catholic groups are seeing children weighing half of what they should, said Father Verzeletti. Other countries should take notice because climate change and destruction of nature in Central America, as well as political strife, will only increase the movement of people. To read the complete article click here