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  1. It was one in the morning in late March when Luis, a 43-year-old Mexican man, tiptoed across the floor in his socks. He had just been startled from sleep by the sound of violent knocking on the door of the double-wide trailer where he and a few other farmworkers live. He was terrified; he leaned against the wall and listened. Luis is no stranger to violence. Even though he has worked on a relatively tranquil apple farm in upstate New York’s mid-Hudson region for over a decade, he originally came to the United States to flee the violence in Guerrero state on Mexico’s west coast. For years there, vigilante militias have been fighting back against local warlords. The last time he was home, five years ago, Luis wanted to stay. He drove a pickup truck as a form of taxi service for hotel workers, but the warlords held him up at gunpoint, threatening to kill him if he didn’t give them a cut of his fares. (Pseudonyms have been used in several instances throughout this article to protect the identities of undocumented farmworkers and the farmers who employ them.) “If you don’t pay,” Luis told me, “they kill you.” So he journeyed back to the United States, walking across Mexico every night for a week under the guidance of a “coyote,” or human smuggler. That, too, was frightening. He says he was so thirsty, he thought he might die. But in March, in the middle of the night in the Hudson Valley, Luis’s fear wasn’t dehydration or gangs—he was afraid that agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement might be outside. He locked the door to his bedroom and waited. Eventually, the knocking stopped, but Luis barely slept that night. The next day, he found out that the hammering on the trailer’s door was an incoming guest worker who had wound up sleeping outside on the stoop of another sprawling double-wide trailer on the farm. During picking season in late summer, the farm houses dozens of seasonal and undocumented workers. Luis had good cause to be afraid. About a week prior to the late-night knocking, ICE had picked up an undocumented farmworker on this same farm because he’d been convicted of two DUIs. And a few days after that, on a different apple farm just a few miles away, ICE had come before sunup for a 23-year-old man, Diego, who is from Guatemala. He had also been charged with DUIs. Diego is one of four brothers who, one by one over the years, all hitchhiked from Central America, walked across Mexico, and eventually found their way to the Hudson Valley to pick apples. He’s now detained, awaiting deportation proceedings in lower Manhattan. According to his attorney at a local nonprofit public-defense firm, Diego has a less than 5 percent chance of getting bail, much less staying in the United States. Continue reading
  2. The last direct flight carrying Cuban migrants out of Costa Rica arrived in Mexico on Tuesday, ending an effort to transport Cubans who have been stranded in Central America since mid-November. Nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants had been stuck in Costa Rica after Nicaragua, a Cuban ally, began denying them entry. As the flow of migrants began to bottleneck at the border of Nicaragua, Costa Rica in turn closed its border to new arrivals, forcing additional migrants to seek shelter in neighboring Panama. Panama and Costa Rica agreed on a solution to fly the migrants over Nicaragua to various cities in Mexico and El Salvador starting in January, from where they could continue north until they reached their destination: the U.S. border. “This has been a successful operation, which included organizing nine flights in a period of three weeks and which was made possible thanks to exceptional measures of support and collaboration on the part of Mexico, Panama and governments of the Latin American region for humanitarian reasons and from a viewpoint of shared responsibility,” Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo de Alvarado said Friday in a statement. Although most migrants were able to continue on their journey, all arrivals from Cuba after the end of the flight operation on March 8 have been left to comply with Panama’s standard immigration laws, according to the Latin American Herald. A small number of Cubans are still in Costa Rica as well, said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, unable to make the journey north for various reasons, according to Agence France-Presse. The process has undeniably had its share of challenges, from lost passports to missing information and logistical setbacks. Tired of waiting in the shelters, approximately 2,985 migrants chose to take their chances with immigrant smugglers (although some reportsestimate the number is closer to 4,000). According to Costa Rican news source Tico Times, the Solís administration has sought to highlight Costa Rica’s respect for human rights after having helped cause the migration crisis in the first place. The country’s handling of the situation has been praised, and with good reason; Costa Rica issued 7,800 temporary transit visas to the Cubans in just four months, and sheltered 5,500 migrants in 44 locations across the country. These efforts were aided by dozens of families, community groups and religious organizations that helped provide both shelter and food. “We’ve never had such a large number of migrants together at one time,” President Solís told Tico Times on Friday morning, as one of the last planes carrying Cuban migrants left for Mexico. “Look how they’re leaving – they’re leaving happy and tranquil, thanking the people of Costa Rica.” The migration of Cubans to the United States has gathered speed in the past few years, with the renewal of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Many Cubans fear that the 1961 Cuban Adjustment Act will be eliminated, and with it, the opportunity to obtain residency in the U.S. Source:
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