World Take a look inside Kiev's astonishing Soviet-era metro system, home to the deepest subway station in the world

13:25  29 september  2019
13:25  29 september  2019 Source:   businessinsider.com

Ukrainian leaders feel trapped between warring Washington factions

  Ukrainian leaders feel trapped between warring Washington factions Demands by Trump and his allies for Biden probe leave Kiev looking for way out of ‘diplomatic disaster.’They could give in to Trump’s demand to open an inquiry into the Ukrainian business dealings of Hunter Biden and risk the anger of Democrats and others for engaging in what those interests would see as interference in the 2020 elections. Or the Ukrainians could defy Trump and face the wrath of a president who had frozen $250 million of crucial military assistance for mysterious reasons before releasing it earlier this month.

David’s story begins and ends in Retalhuleu, Guatemala.

He left his hometown Aug. 2 with hopes of a good-paying job and better medical treatment for his son’s crooked broken wrist.

He returned 52 days later exhausted, dirty and more than $19,400 in debt.

“This is going to stay with me. This is going to stay with me as an experience to not go to the United States,” said David, 31. “I tell people what has happened to me so they don’t do what I did.”

Tens of thousands of migrants who have made the 1,000-mile journey to the U.S. in search of refuge have been sent back into dangerous Mexican border cities while they await court hearings on the U.S. side.

After months in limbo, a lot of them are returning home, their dreams of a better life here dashed by the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program.

At the Good Samaritan shelter in Nuevo Laredo this month, David and Edin, his 10-year-old son, said they were repeatedly kidnapped by gangs and detained by the U.S. Border Patrol.

“I’m scared. I’m scared that something is going to happen to my son — mostly for my son,” said David, sweating through the red shirt he’d worn since he left Guatemala. He asked that his last name not be used.

“As long as God has given me the gift of still being here alive, it’s better I go back home to my family.”

His wife and 6-year-old son had stayed in Guatemala. Over two months, she sent thousands of dollars in ransom to gang members who had kidnapped David and Edin, placing the family deep into debt.

“There aren’t many people who want to keep risking their lives like this anymore,” said Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz of Laredo’s Iglesia Bautista Emanuel. He volunteers at the Good Samaritan shelter in Nuevo Laredo. “A lot of people decide to go back. A lot.”

By August, only 61 percent of MPP migrants attended their first court hearing, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse nonprofit. By comparison, 84.5 percent of asylum-seekers between last September and May who were not subject to MPP showed up for their first hearing.

Lawyers say the high rate of absenteeism among MPP migrants is a combination of their lack of access to lawyers, the fear of showing up at ports of entry at early hours and the decision by some to abandon their case and return home.

“I never would have come,” David said while Edin colored on a piece of paper at the shelter. “They never told me there was so much danger here.”

In captivity

Tigrillo. Japonés. Nogal. Pancho Mini Mi.

Those were the passwords smugglers gave David as proof he had paid them.

In Retalhuleu, he had earned 50 Guatemalan quetzales — or $6.48 — a day unloading fruit from trucks. Unable to provide for his family, he and his son left for Houston, where his sister lives. His wife and their younger son waited for him and their oldest son to make the journey first.

David hired smugglers to take him and Edin from Guatemala to Reynosa, the Mexican city across the border from McAllen. It took them six days. He said they were trapped in a box in a tractor-trailer on one 10-hour ride. At a stash house in Monterrey, they were shoved in a cockroach-infested room full of migrants for days.

Once they arrived at the border, David went through “a nightmare I could never have imagined.”

He was kidnapped and arrested, held by gang members on one side of the border and by Border Patrol officers on the other. One night, he’d be at a stash house; the next, at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.

He was tossed between northern Mexico and South Texas, crossing the border four times and getting returned to Mexico by U.S. authorities each time.

Sometimes he crossed the border into the U.S. out of fear, to escape the gangs and avoid getting kidnapped again. Other times, he said, cartel members who’d kidnapped him forced him to cross the Rio Grande as a diversion so others a few miles downriver could cross and evade capture.

His last abduction, he said, was hours after he was released by the Border Patrol at the international bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. He and Edin had just spent 10 days in an ICE detention facility.

David was aware of migrant shelters at that point and was desperate to find refuge in the closest one, about five blocks away.

“Papi, I’m scared,” Edin said as they started walking.

“Just start walking. God will protect us,” David told him, putting his arm around his son. “We’ll be fine.”

They were fine for three or four blocks until a group of gang members appeared. Edin began to cry.

They asked David for his password. He told them: “Pancho mini mi.”

“Good, he’s with us,” they said.

And they kidnapped them anyway.

After more than a week in captivity, David’s family in Guatemala paid the kidnappers $15,000 to free them.

‘Never leaving again’

Edin still describes the U.S. with one word: “Beautiful.”

“He wanted to study and work, and send money back to his mom and brother, so they could come and all four of us could be together,” David said.

Edin’s wrist still needed surgery. Their family was even more in debt because of the kidnappings, and David wasn’t sure how he could earn enough money back home to support his family.

But the horrors at the border were inescapable.

“We can’t stay here,” David said.

At one point while he was in U.S. detention, Border Patrol officers let him have a nonrefoulement interview over the phone with an asylum officer — a legal function that could allow MPP migrants to stay in the U.S. if they can prove fear of persecution in Mexico.

David said he explained what had happened to him, and begged the officer to deport him.

“I said, ‘Could you do me the favor to send me back home or stay in the United States? Help me,’” he said.

But he and his son were sent back to Mexico.

There’s no available data on the approval rate of these interviews, but lawyers say it’s close to zero.

On Sept. 19, a day after arriving at the Good Samaritan shelter, David asked his family to go into debt one more time, to help him and Edin get home.

He tossed the red shirt he’d been wearing since he’d left Guatemala and put on a donated shirt from the shelter.

On Sept. 20, he and his son took a bus ride south and for four days retraced the 1,000-mile journey they’d made a month earlier.

His son’s wrist was still crooked, he was deeper in debt and he had experiences that will haunt him for a long time.

But he was home.

“I saw my 6-year-old son. He came running toward me, crying ‘Papi, papi,’ and I hugged him,” David said from Guatemala. “He said, ‘Are you going back?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m never leaving again.’”

On Dec. 4, a judge in San Antonio is scheduled to call out David’s and Edin’s names during their first scheduled court hearing.

But neither will be there.

“I wish,” David said. “We had just stayed here.”

Silvia Foster-Frau covers immigration news in the San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | sfosterfrau@express-news.net | Twitter: @SilviaElenaFF

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