Immigrants’ rescue: masked deportations


During the last few years, the Mexican government has been bragging about numerous immigrants´ rescues. Once put in practice, those rescues become massive deportations, since the immigrants´ rights to justice and safety are not granted. Case to the point, less than 1% of the so called “rescued” immigrants during 2014 was granted a humanitarian visa.

By: Jade Ramírez

Immigrants’ rescue: masked deportations

During the last few years, the Mexican government has been bragging about numerous immigrants´ rescues. Once put in practice, those rescues become massive deportations, since the immigrants´ rights to justice and safety are not granted. Case to the point, less than 1% of the so called “rescued” immigrants during 2014 was granted a humanitarian visa.

By: Jade Ramírez, Majo Siscar, Mely Arellano, Ximena Natera

During the last few years, the Mexican government has been bragging about numerous immigrants´ rescues. Once put in practice, those rescues become massive deportations, since the immigrants´ rights to justice and safety are not granted. Case to the point, less than 1% of the so called “rescued” immigrants during 2014 was granted a humanitarian visa.

Text by: Mely Arellano, Ximena Natera, Jade Ramírez and Majo Siscar

When she was kidnapped, Paola Quiñones didn’t get in touch with her family, the police or any other authority. The first place she called was the Hermanos del Camino immigrant shelter, under the care of Father Solalinde, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Her kidnappers requested a substantial ransom for each one of the immigrants stacked among several safe-houses, the priest managed to get a police raid to free them instead.

The morning of June 23, 2014, came early in Reynosa. Attorney General´s Office (PGR) raided several houses based on the clues provided by Paola Quiñones until they found over a hundred immigrants, 114 according to Human Rights activists, among them Paola Quiñones and her friend Jorge Moncada.

They had been held prisoners for 11 days, after being taken at gunpoint from the bus they were traveling on to the Tamaulipas-Texas border. They were taken to the Tamaulipas´ Attorney General´s office that same day, June 23rd, to file a complaint along with other 112 immigrants. They spent the night there, without a bed to sleep in, not even a blanket. The very next day they were taken to the Mexico City Attorney General´s Office, where they spent 3 more days. Then they were taken to Las Agujas immigration station in Iztapalapa, in the east side of Mexico City, where they started the paperwork to get them out of the country, without ever receiving any kind of aid or assistance. Almost all of the immigrants were deported during the following days.

Immigrants, who have been victims of a crime within Mexico, have the right to denounce it and start a process to legalize their stay in the country through a humanitarian visa or political shelter, as stated in the Refugees and Political Asylum Migratory Laws.

Nevertheless, in practice, Mexico´s government led by Enrique Peña Nieto, transgresses its own law and, the so called, “rescues” wind up being massive deportations and transgressions to the immigrants´ right to justice and safety.

In this investigation, conducted by En el Camino based on information requests, follow up on kidnapping cases and interviews with human rights activists, we have unveiled something baptized as “masked detentions” by different organizations; due to the fact that the number of immigrants who were supposedly rescued matches the number of those who were later deported, besides the fact that less than 1% of the “rescued” immigrants during 2014, were able to obtain a humanitarian visa.

 

Paola Quiñones, sobreviviente.
Paola Quiñones, a survivor.

During the last few years, the Mexican government has been bragging about numerous immigrants´ rescues. Once put in practice, those rescues become massive deportations, since the immigrants´ rights to justice and safety are not granted. Case to the point, less than 1% of the so called “rescued” immigrants during 2014 was granted a humanitarian visa.

Text by: Mely Arellano, Ximena Natera, Jade Ramírez and Majo Siscar

When she was kidnapped, Paola Quiñones didn’t get in touch with her family, the police or any other authority. The first place she called was the Hermanos del Camino immigrant shelter, under the care of Father Solalinde, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Her kidnappers requested a substantial ransom for each one of the immigrants stacked among several safe-houses, the priest managed to get a police raid to free them instead.

The morning of June 23, 2014, came early in Reynosa. Attorney General´s Office (PGR) raided several houses based on the clues provided by Paola Quiñones until they found over a hundred immigrants, 114 according to Human Rights activists, among them Paola Quiñones and her friend Jorge Moncada.

They had been held prisoners for 11 days, after being taken at gunpoint from the bus they were traveling on to the Tamaulipas-Texas border. They were taken to the Tamaulipas´ Attorney General´s office that same day, June 23rd, to file a complaint along with other 112 immigrants. They spent the night there, without a bed to sleep in, not even a blanket. The very next day they were taken to the Mexico City Attorney General´s Office, where they spent 3 more days. Then they were taken to Las Agujas immigration station in Iztapalapa, in the east side of Mexico City, where they started the paperwork to get them out of the country, without ever receiving any kind of aid or assistance. Almost all of the immigrants were deported during the following days.

Immigrants, who have been victims of a crime within Mexico, have the right to denounce it and start a process to legalize their stay in the country through a humanitarian visa or political shelter, as stated in the Refugees and Political Asylum Migratory Laws.

Nevertheless, in practice, Mexico´s government led by Enrique Peña Nieto, transgresses its own law and, the so called, “rescues” wind up being massive deportations and transgressions to the immigrants´ right to justice and safety.

In this investigation, conducted by En el Camino based on information requests, follow up on kidnapping cases and interviews with human rights activists, we have unveiled something baptized as “masked detentions” by different organizations; due to the fact that the number of immigrants who were supposedly rescued matches the number of those who were later deported, besides the fact that less than 1% of the “rescued” immigrants during 2014, were able to obtain a humanitarian visa.

During the last few years, the Mexican government has been bragging about numerous immigrants´ rescues. Once put in practice, those rescues become massive deportations, since the immigrants´ rights to justice and safety are not granted. Case to the point, less than 1% of the so called “rescued” immigrants during 2014 was granted a humanitarian visa.

Text by: Mely Arellano, Ximena Natera, Jade Ramírez and Majo Siscar

When she was kidnapped, Paola Quiñones didn’t get in touch with her family, the police or any other authority. The first place she called was the Hermanos del Camino immigrant shelter, under the care of Father Solalinde, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Her kidnappers requested a substantial ransom for each one of the immigrants stacked among several safe-houses, the priest managed to get a police raid to free them instead.

The morning of June 23, 2014, came early in Reynosa. Attorney General´s Office (PGR) raided several houses based on the clues provided by Paola Quiñones until they found over a hundred immigrants, 114 according to Human Rights activists, among them Paola Quiñones and her friend Jorge Moncada.

They had been held prisoners for 11 days, after being taken at gunpoint from the bus they were traveling on to the Tamaulipas-Texas border. They were taken to the Tamaulipas´ Attorney General´s office that same day, June 23rd, to file a complaint along with other 112 immigrants. They spent the night there, without a bed to sleep in, not even a blanket. The very next day they were taken to the Mexico City Attorney General´s Office, where they spent 3 more days. Then they were taken to Las Agujas immigration station in Iztapalapa, in the east side of Mexico City, where they started the paperwork to get them out of the country, without ever receiving any kind of aid or assistance. Almost all of the immigrants were deported during the following days.

Immigrants, who have been victims of a crime within Mexico, have the right to denounce it and start a process to legalize their stay in the country through a humanitarian visa or political shelter, as stated in the Refugees and Political Asylum Migratory Laws.

Nevertheless, in practice, Mexico´s government led by Enrique Peña Nieto, transgresses its own law and, the so called, “rescues” wind up being massive deportations and transgressions to the immigrants´ right to justice and safety.

In this investigation, conducted by En el Camino based on information requests, follow up on kidnapping cases and interviews with human rights activists, we have unveiled something baptized as “masked detentions” by different organizations; due to the fact that the number of immigrants who were supposedly rescued matches the number of those who were later deported, besides the fact that less than 1% of the “rescued” immigrants during 2014, were able to obtain a humanitarian visa.

¿RESCATES O DEPORTACIONES?

Ni la ley ni el reglamento de Migración define el término“rescate” o “rescatado”. Sin embargo, en sus boletines el INM lo utiliza para señalar que se liberó a migrantes de manos de traficantes, secuestradores o casas de seguridad o tráilers donde estaban en espera de cruzar a Estados Unidos.

La falta de acatamiento de la ley y del seguimiento jurídico a los migrantes “rescatados” impide distinguir cuándo se trata de migrantes que realmente estaban secuestrados y cuándo de quienes esperaban en casas de seguridad, hoteles o a bordo de camiones cruzar la frontera.

“(En algunos casos) Parece que la autoridad está engañando y en realidad está deteniendo a migrantes que esperan cruzar” alerta Córdova, desde el Consejo Ciudadano del INM.

Instituto Nacional de Migración, acoso.
National Migration Institute, harassment.

 

On June 11th, when she got on that bus to the Tamaulipas-U.S. border, Paola didn’t think anything could happen to her. This time she was traveling on an official route, away from the vulnerability of the hideouts where undocumented immigrants have to stay. Organized crime doesn’t ask for documents, though.

Ten days after the Reynosa raid, Paola and Jorge managed to get out of the immigration station and settled in the CAFEMIN, a shelter run by the Scalabrinians Sisters. They started the official complaint for their kidnapping from there. They were able to do so, thanks to the assistance of an independent institution.

The other 112 immigrants, secured by the PGR and later put into INM´s custody, remained detained in the immigration station and, one by one, were sent back to their countries, after signing an, according to the authorities, “voluntary” deportation. This is legally known as “assisted repatriation”, though in practice it is a deportation that is not registered on the immigrant´s migratory record.

Someone who has just faced a traumatic experience needs a place to receive medical assistance and recover both psychologically and legally. However, the assisted repatriations are tainted by exhaustion, lack of psychological assistance and loss of hope among the victims, who cannot find an access to justice nor to be set free fast enough for them to resume their journey to the northern border.

There wasn’t a single complaint filed by the immigrants being held by the INM. The institution wore them down and stalled them to keep them from starting a regularization legal process. The INM cornered them to sign their repatriation”, claims Alberto Donis.

They break their hopes, they tell them: “you will remain detained for the duration of the process, so you better go, go back, we will pay for the bus, you will be fed, you ought to go back.” That is every day’s routine”, explains Leticia Gutierrez, Migrants and Refugees Scalabrinians Mission´s Director, A.K.A Sister Letty, who has played the role of mediator between civil organizations and the PGR regarding the issue of the immigrants who have been victims of a crime.

Solalinde, lucha incansable por los migrantes.
Solalinde, a tireless battle on behalf of immigrants

 

Victims without a Humanitarian Visa

Those immigrants had the right to regularize their stay in the country, due to the fact they had been victims of a crime. As a matter of fact, Paola Quiñones had already started the paper work to regularize her stay when she arrived to Father Solalinde´s shelter. Barely a few months earlier, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, three policemen attacked her and stole all of her money and belongings under the threat of taking her to the INM´s office. When she finally arrived to Ixtepec, the priest and Donis encouraged her to file a denouncement. Once she got her file, she started the paperwork to get her visa.

En el Camino requested through INFOMEX “details about rescue, salvage and securement operations of immigrants since January the 1st 2008 to February 2015”. The information delivered started in 2012, when the new Immigration Law was implemented.

According to the official data (delivered under the request # 0411100011515), from 2008 to 2015, 84500 operatives have been performed using checkpoints spread among Mexico City and the 29 states (some of them delivered the information in an illegible or incomplete format: Aguascalientes, Durango, Veracruz, Baja California Sur and Sinaloa). Among all of them, the authorities acknowledge only 427 people as “possible crime victims”.

This would mean, only one immigrant out of 200 “rescue” operations, would have faced violence. The numbers delivered unveil a brutal difference between “rescued” immigrants and those acknowledged as “victims”.

If the 127,000 rescued immigrants, mentioned by Ardelio Vargas (INM´s commissioner), were snatched from the claws of the organized crime, we should be issuing thousands of humanitarian visas”, ponders Cordoba.

According to Sister Leticia, when an immigrant is victim of a crime, despite the fact they can choose not to file a complaint, most of them actually do if they are properly assisted. Her organization aided, only during the first 6 months in 2015, 189 victims, only 10 of them decided not to denounce the crime.

A la espera de una visa humanitaria. Ixtepec Oaxaca.
Ixtepec, Oaxaca, longing for a humanitarian visa.

The En el Camino team researched the number of humanitarian visas issued since 2012 through INAI (request #0411100011515). However, the authority did not acknowledged to have granted any.

From the information provided we learned that in 314 cases an exit letter could have been provided. That is a permit to leave the country legally within 30 days. We use the conditional “could have” because the answer was broken down by the number of operations and not by particular cases, therefore an operation where 12 people were “rescued” there could have been 3 “victims of a crime”, but INM only reports what happened with the 12people in total, not with the 3 victims.

The fact we are positive about, is that at least 113 out of those 427 “possible” victims of a crime were sent back to their home countries, either via deportation or assisted repatriation.

From its side, the Unidad de Politica Migratoria (Migratory Policies Unit) does not have a record about how many humanitarian visas had been issued before 2013, but they do starting 2014. On that year it is reported 623 humanitarian visas were granted, a meager number compared to the 127,149 immigrants who, according to that same institution, were rescued during 2014, which means that humanitarian visas were granted to only 0.4% of the immigrants who were “rescued”. From the total number, according to the records, 107,814 were sent back to their home countries and the rest, over 18,000 cases, show no information.

During the first months of 2015, 527 humanitarian visas were granted, however, 97,513 immigrants were “rescued” and 82,266 were “sent back”. The percentage of humanitarian visas granted was also under 1%.

Without Humanitarian Assistance

In June 2014, after the 114 immigrants were taken to Las Agujas, in Iztapalapa, Father Solalinde and one of his collaborators, Alberto Donis arrived, moved by Paola Quiñones´ call. The priest had a doctor to look at Paola and Jorge; he found them suffering of severe infections, dehydrated and malnourished. They were both feeble and suffering post-traumatic stress as a consequence of the kidnapping.

It was very difficult for me, we didn’t receive the assistance we deserved and needed. There was no medical assistance, leave alone psychological. We didn’t know what was going on”, states Quiñones from Honduras, where she visits her family.

Inside Las Agujas, there are prison cells, punishment cells and even a mob, formed by the inmates, that controls the cigarettes and food trade as well as the phone rights, as denounced by the organization Sin Fronteras. Although there isn’t budget to ensure health care and the minimum attentions necessary to someone who has suffered kidnapping or any other serious crime.

 

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Immigrants, completely vulnerable in Mexico

Those immigrants, according to the law, should have been sent to special government shelters, since they are victims who are about to start a legal process. They are not detained, but they are left in the station without support or possibility to leave”, explains Alberto Donis who, besides Father Solalinde, attempted to negotiate the transferring of the 114 immigrants to Ixtepec. Due to the lack of resources their attempt was unsuccessful.

INM´s communication department (National Migration Institute) assured to En el Camino via telephone, that there is an internal mandate to assist immigrants who are looking to legalize their stay after being either victims or witnesses of a crime and that here, in Mexico, the survival and wellbeing of immigrants are provided. Nevertheless, according to the “Detention, Identification and Assistance of foreign victims of a crime Procedure”, a protocol detailing the scope of the migratory authorities contained in the Migratory Law, the victims of a crime “will be directed to an institution, public or private, to receive the required assistance” and, regarding victims of human trafficking, “their stay in shelters and specialized institutions will be guaranteed”.

However, Paola Quiñones and the rest of the “rescued” immigrants were not offered a place in any institution nor money to survive for the duration of the process. Only Solalinde´s shelter allowed her to stay for three months, in exchange for her cooking in the shelter´s diner.

Leticia Gutierrez states that the lack of follow up on the victims of a crime is such that there isn’t data to obtain patterns, hence preventing future kidnappings.

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Click to learn about the Guatemalan man who survived a machete attack

INM´s speech is intended to convince the general public, however, the biggest problem is that, whenever they actually issue humanitarian visas, 90% of the cases is because a shelter assisted the requestor for the duration of the process. Nobody gets documents from within the INM”, concludes Donis. While deportations and assisted repatriations continue, the complaint filed by the worn out Guatemalan man after being kidnapped and blackmailed, has given him no access to justice. Despite the fact he provided a physical description and a sketch of his kidnappers, which led to the arrest of three of them, after being positively identified, they were released due to “lack of evidence”.

Reproduction is authorized as long as the author, the text and the following are clearly quoted “This article is part of the project En el Camino, produced by Red de Periodistas de a Pie with the support of Open Society Foundations. To find out more about this project visit: enelcamino.periodistasdeapie.org.mx”

 

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Jade Ramírez

TEXTOTEXTOTEXTO

Desde la adolescencia reportera y radialista autodidacta.

Enfocada a la cobertura de temáticas sobre derechos humanos, conflictos socio-ambientales y cultura. Ha sido premiada por la Bienal Internacional de Radio en la categoría de Radioarte, Radio Indigenista, Mesa de Análisis y Debate; finalista del Premio Fundación Nuevo Periodismo en 2007 y 2009. Obtuvo el Premio Internacional de Periodismo Rey de España por el reportaje “La Discriminación vuela por Avianca”, también en 2009. Actualmente escribe para medios digitales y realiza reportajes para la radio y televisión universitaria en Jalisco.


Majo Siscar

El periodismo es su manera de entender el mundo. Huyó de Valencia aburrida de cubrir el Congreso cuando la crisis española todavía no empañaba las corbatas de los políticos. Se perdió en la Selva Lacandona, cubrió el último golpe de estado latinoamericano y se volvió adicta al ron centroamericano.
Desde hace cinco años reside en el DF desde donde reportea para medios mexicanos e internacionales.
Es migrante de la escritura, pero por venir del norte, pocas veces le piden los papeles.


Mely Arellano

Trabajo en el portal de noticias Lado B, en Puebla. Estudié Lingüística y Literatura Hispánica. Me gusta contar historias. Creo en el periodismo como un instrumento de la sociedad para la democracia.


Ximena Natera

Soy aspirante a la buena imagen, a la buena crónica, a la buena historia, soy aspirante al buen periodismo. Las historias de horror, miedo e injusticia que vimos y escuchamos a lo largo del camino me dejaron un hoyo en el estómago, la única manera que encuentro para cerrarlo es compartir estas mismas historias una y otra vez, con la esperanza de que la indignación se propague y, como dice el periodista Oscar Martínez, contribuya a iluminar poco a poco las esquinas oscuras.