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Sunday, July 20
This past week has seen a significant reduction in the number of refugees coming into Laredo. At Holding Institute Community Center we have had only about 20 adults all week. We continue to see mothers with small children. They still come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, though few from Guatemala.
One young woman from El Salvador said that her reason for leaving was threats from a gang. Her older sisters live in the U.S. and send money to the family. One day several gang members came to the home, pulled a gun and held it to her head. They threatened to kill her if she didn’t pay them $10,000. Her sisters told her it was time to come to them. She is also pregnant with a due date in October.
A Honduran woman with three daughters explained that she had been separated from her husband for five years and wanted the girls to know their father. She wanted the girls to have a better life and a chance to go to school. She and the girls had been on the road for over a month, walking many days, as well as taking the train.
Another Honduran woman who came yesterday with her one year old daughter was able to ride the bus, while her companion with a seven year old had used the train–La Bestia–riding on top in Mexico.
A Mexican pastor of a Methodist Church in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, shared information with us about the slow down in numbers. His observations are that there are many Central Americans in the city who are looking for the opportunity to cross over. They have heard now how single men and single women are being kept in detention and deported more quickly. Either they are out of money to pay the coyotes to cross the river or they simply are waiting for a better chance. Earlier in the week there was a large train derailment that caused quite a bit of delays for those that ride on the top of the train. There were people hurt and people who were then on foot.
The city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, has put up some simple shelters for the migrants, hoping to keep them in one area while they wait. This particular Mexican Methodist Church is serving food, going out at midnight in the streets. At first it was risky, but now the Mexican police and the Zetas, a gang in control of much border territory, recognize them and leave them alone. We would like to help them with extra food and clothes, but there are border restrictions about carrying certain items across. We are impressed with the pastor’s maturity although he is only 26. In the early evening he has been bringing several of young adults of his church with him to help in tasks around Holding Institute Community Center. Mercy and charity seem to seep through borders.