That’s the message handwritten in French and Spanish on a protest bannerat a tent city here in the southernmost tip of Mexico.
The tents belong to some 250 African nationals who crossed jungles, forded rivers, sneaked across borders and dodged militias and thieves to get here in hopes of eventually reaching the United States. But now they are stuck, because Mexico has denied them the travel visas necessary to proceed north.
Last year, the U.S. accepted the smallest of refugees since the modern resettlement program began in 1980.
According to the latest number from the Migration Policy Institute, 22,491 refugees settled in the U.S. in 2018, that’s just under half of the 45,000 person ceiling set by the government.
Although Texas still leads the nation in resettlements. Last year 1,692 refugees came to the Lone Star State, according to the National Immigration Forum. That’s a 77 percent drop from 2015 when 7,479 refugees were settled, according to Refugee Council USA.
The sharp drop is the result of executive actions by the Trump administration, which wants to limit the inflow of refugees to the U.S. The 45,000 admission cap was the lowest since the Refugee Act of 1980 was approved.
The family of Constantin Bakala gathered in downtown San Diego on Thursday to submit a petition with the federal government, with nearly 500 signatures, asking for their father not to be deported.
As soon as Friday the father of seven from the Democratic Republic of Congo may be returned to a country where he fears he’ll be killed. The family fled home in 2017 after they were tortured and poisoned because of Bakala’s calls for democracy, according to the family.
After a harrowing journey through some of Latin America’s most dangerous countries, including a shipwreck where they lost important documents for their asylum case, the family was separated upon arrival in the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Bakala was put in detention while his wife and kids were released on parole. His asylum petition was rejected, his family says, because he couldn’t get an attorney from inside detention until months into his case.