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"The Invisibles" - Explore the perilous journey to the U.S. frontier

Discover Will's personal experience on his perilous journey to the southern U.S. border. This international protection seeker fled Cuba and was relocated to Venezuela, where he had to flee as he was at risk of being deported back to Cuba due to the his opposition to the Maduro regime.

Thus begins a journey of more than 6,000 kilometers to reach a safe haven, where the threat of traffickers, theft, abuse, violence and death overshadows an already dangerous route. All these challenges are faced by thousands of people every month.

The U.S. border with Mexico has been a hotspot for thousands of people fleeing government and gang violence, repression, natural disasters and their aftermath, as well as homelessness and extreme poverty. Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, from all corners, make long and dangerous journeys in the hope of building a new life safely in the U.S. They come from Mexico and the countries of Central and South America, but also from Africa, the Middle East , Ukraine or Russia.

Many of those waiting at the border continue to face additional challenges. In addition to extremely bureaucratic processes and legal barriers, overcrowded facilities, arrests and deportations are added. In the 2022 fiscal year (as of September 30) more than 2.3 million people were detained, reaching the record of the last two decades.

Many human rights are violated by border agents without any impunity, such as the use of brute force, sexual abuse, intimidation or forgery of documents, including inhumane actions such as throwing children and babies into the river or refusing to give water to pregnant women, children and dehydrated people, under the intense heat, causing many to faint.

These actions follow the trend driven by the Trump administration, which set this border as one of the pillars of its candidacy, promising the construction of a 14,000 kilometer wall between the two countries, all paid by Mexico. Currently, the construction completed by President Trump has only 730 kilometers, having been fully paid for by the Government itself and by American entities, far exceeding the initially estimated budget. With the stalemate over the wall, Trump adopted new strategies and in 2018 initiated a policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, which resulted in more than 2,000 children being forcly separated from their mothers and fathers. That same year, Trump announced new measures to deny asylum and international protection, meaning that no person crossing the Mexican border illegally could apply for asylum. This measure, which goes against human and asylum rights, left thousands of people from all over the world trapped at the border, leading to the worsening of an already established crisis.

The Biden administration stopped the construction of the wall and lifted measures from the emergency declaration promulgated by Trump, yet the arrests and abuses continued, with more than 1.7 million people detained in 2021. Never before have so many people been detained at the border, until last year which reached yet another record of 2.3 million people. There are also reports of people being killed by border agents.

New measures and strategies are frequently announced by the governors of the various border states. The latter entails the installation of a huge 305 metre water barrier made of giant buoys in a section of the Rio Grande river between Mexico and Texas. There are several lawsuits against this barrier, accusing it of being inhumane and dangerous, of not having had prior federal approval and of heritage having been destroyed in its construction. The Governor of Texas has again encouraged the separation of families, having already separated 26 families since June of this year.

Regardless of the amount of walls, fences, repressive measures or human rights violations, people whose lives are at risk in their countries of origin will continue to take dangerous and fatal routes, desperately looking for peace and security for themselves and those they love most. We recall the phrase of Sarah, a Syrian refugee who crossed the Mediterranean with her son: "No mother or father would let their child take a journey with so many risks if the option of staying was not more dangerous".

All these challenges, suffering and fear are experienced daily by thousands of people. Discover the journey of one of them.

Camila from Venezuela takes part in protest to request asylum in the USA. mARCH 2023. Reuters.

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