Stuck at US border, migrants losing hope

Yemeli Ortega –
Still stinging from the tear gas that beat back their attempt to breach the US-Mexican border, members of the Central American migrant caravan are starting to lose hope, and in some cases are turning back.
The migrants have played all their cards in recent days, after more than a month’s trek across Central America and Mexico — but with little success.
Their surprise bid to rush the border en masse on Sunday ended as abruptly as it began, when US Border Patrol agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets to force them back.
And attempts to sneak across the border alone or in small groups appear to be largely failing.
That leaves the roughly 5,000 migrants in the caravan with a handful of options, equally unappealing to most: wait the months or years it could take to request asylum in the United States; settle in Mexico; or give up and go home.
Their desperation is palpable at the improvised shelter where they are staying in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego.
Living in crowded conditions, with limited toilets, disease outbreaks and two rations of food a day, many are still shell-shocked from the failed attempt by about 500 migrants to get over the chain-link border fence topped with barbed wire on Sunday.
“We thought they were going to kill us. It’s going to be hard to get to the other side,” said Brayan Casas, a 28-year-old from Honduras, showing the bruises he got when he, his wife and his son joined Sunday’s stampede.
“They learned their lesson,” an employee of Mexico’s National Migration Institute said at the shelter.
“They’ve seen they won’t be able to cross easily. They’re a lot less rebellious today.”
The migrants are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America’s “Northern Triangle” — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
US President Donald Trump has however warned of an “invasion” by a group full of “hardened criminals.”
Some migrants have tried to sneak into the US alone, without much success. “I’ve tried five times already,” said Danilo Mejia, 26, a Honduran man.
He says he does not have the $10,000 or so he would have to pay a human trafficker, or “coyote,” to bring him into the United States.
But sneaking in through the desert is perilous. Hundreds of migrants die trying every year, of dehydration, hypothermia or snake bites. — AFP