Category Archives: Border Life

In about-face, US lets Mexican woman visit dying husband in Tucson

Gloria Arellano visits her 85-year-old husband, Arsenio de la Rosa, in a midtown Tucson rehabilitation facility after she was granted a 30-day humanitarian pass to visit him. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

When Tucsonan Arsenio de la Rosa’s health deteriorated, he stopped visiting his wife across the border in Nogales, Sonora — as he had done every other weekend for years — while the couple waited out her decade-long ban from returning to the United States.

But on Friday, a few hours after the U.S. government reversed its position and gave Gloria Arellano a 30-day permit to travel to Tucson, she was by his bedside, telling him she was there for him now.

“I came to take care of you,” she said, as she took his frail hand. “So you can get strong and we can walk back home.”

Arsenio de la Rosa, 85, has been given a few weeks to live after he was hospitalized on Aug. 6 and suffered a stroke.

Customs and Border Protection initially denied the family’s request Tuesday to allow his wife to visit, citing her prior denial for a permanent residency card and subsequent 10-year ban for being in the U.S. illegally.

But after public outcry — which included a news conference held by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and an online petition that amassed nearly 16,000 signatures — additional documentation and support, the federal agency approved the pass on humanitarian grounds.

On Friday, Arellano showed up to the port of entry again, but this time accompanied by immigration attorney Mo Goldman, who assumed responsibility for taking her back to the port once her permit ends. After roughly an hour, they emerged with a thumbs up.

CBP officials said they cannot comment on individual cases.

Outside the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Arellano thanked the government and everyone else who supported her family. She said she had wanted to come see her husband one last time, to comfort her children and “be a pillar on which they could lean.”

This decision means “the world” to his family, said Bill de la Rosa, one of the couple’s four children who mobilized after his mother’s first denial.

“I was in complete disbelief when I found out,” Friday morning that the government would approve the humanitarian pass. “I immediately started imagining her on this side, in her old home, and us as a family,” added the 24-year old Oxford University graduate student, who traveled home to Tucson from England last week.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

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Mexican woman barred from U.S. denied permission to visit dying husband in Arizona

After the request of Gloria Arellano de la Rosa, left, was rejected, her son Bill vowed that the effort to have her visit her dying husband “isn’t over.” Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

The government rejected a Mexican woman’s petition to cross the border back to Arizona to comfort her children and see her ailing husband for what may be the last time.

“I’m completely devastated and confused” said her son, Bill de la Rosa, after the decision Tuesday in Nogales, Arizona.

He had spent the day trying to navigate the complexities of requesting that his mother, Gloria Arellano de la Rosa, be allowed back in the United States temporarily on a humanitarian basis.

“My father is on the verge of death,” he said. “The least they can do is allow her to be with him during these last few moments, to allow him to see his wife one last time.”

Under very specific circumstances, the government can decide to allow people back into the United States for a certain number of days for humanitarian reasons. But it’s discretionary.

Arellano de la Rosa had been allowed in for a few days in 2011 to help care for her husband, Arsenio de la Rosa, when he had a stroke.

But this time, the officer told them he couldn’t allow it, because she was denied legal permanent residency in 2009, Bill said. “He apologized and said it wasn’t up to him, it was up to his boss.”

“I’m completely confused by these circumstances,” Bill said, shaking his head. “It’s inhumane, cruel, unjust.”

It’s the same type of confusion he felt when he was 15 and his mother was barred from returning to the United States, said the now-24-year-old graduate student.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Following the de la Rosa family:

Missing migrants: “Impossible to not feel responsible to carry on the search”

Robin Reineke, co-founder of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, pulls out personal effects of a deceased unidentified migrant. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

Karen Flores never gave up on finding her mother.

She and her father traveled to the Southern Arizona desert in search of Nancy Ganoza, hired attorneys, went to Mexico and followed any lead — no matter how small — hoping to find the 44-year-old mother of two who disappeared on her way to the United States from her native Peru.

When you have a missing loved one, you are not able to become the best version of yourself, said Flores. “It’s something that haunts you every day. You don’t know if they are dead or if they need your help.”

The Tucson-based Colibrí Center for Human Rights has more than 3,000 open cases of migrants who went missing along the border, primarily in Arizona but also in Texas.

While Border Patrol apprehensions are down, the reports to the center grow. Colibrí currently has nearly 300 families waiting to get a call back, including those looking for a loved one who was trying to get back to the U.S. after being deported, said the center’s executive director and co-founder Robin Reineke.

Identifying the missing migrants and connecting them with their families is a hard and time-consuming task and while there are only a few groups in the country that specialize in it, funding is increasingly challenging, Reineke said.

“We are trying to create a centralized system so families don’t feel they have to report to different places, and to help families reclaim their loved ones’ humanity, to stop the deep anguish families feel,” she said.

“We are working really hard to get support to continue this project,” she said, but “our runway is about nine months right now.”

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Tucsonans help raise money, awareness for Guatemala volcano victims

Modesto Boror, left, Sebastian Quinac and Guillermina Xajab talk about efforts to help families affected by the Guatemala eruptions. Perla Trevizo/Arizona Daily Star

One of the last times Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego erupted, the Quinac family took to their home’s straw roof with shovels by their side. As ash from the volcano began to fall, they pushed it away before it sparked a fire.

After they secured their home, they checked on their field. It was already covered with ash.

“Everything looked gray, and two or three days later, everything was burned,” said Sebastian Quinac, a Guatemala native living in Tucson.

And that event was small compared to the latest eruption, he said.

More than 100 people have died and nearly 200 remain missing since June 3. Nearly 13,000 residents who live on the slopes of the volcano have been evacuated so far. About 5,000 of them are being housed in temporary shelters.

As the recovery operation continues amid ongoing volcanic activity, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, cites concerns for the more than 1.7 million people now estimated to be affected by what it calls a “humanitarian tragedy.”

To help them, two Tucson groups are organizing efforts to raise funds and meet different needs.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Delays for asylum seekers at Arizona border not explained by traffic data

More than 50 migrants, many from Guatemala, wait in a sectioned-off area at the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora. Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

The days of waiting for immigrants seeking asylum at the Nogales port of entry in May don’t appear to correspond to any significant increase in the number of people presenting themselves at the border.

The Tucson Field Office, which includes all ports of entry in Arizona, deemed inadmissible 1,792 people in May, which includes those seeking asylum, Customs and Border Protection data show. That’s an increase from previous months but similar to December figures. The share of families and unaccompanied minors among them has been between 62 and 67 percent over the last few months after peaking at 72 percent in December.

CBP has not responded to repeated requests for an interview to discuss the process and delays. Initially, it provided the Arizona Daily Star a written statement saying the agency processed people as quickly as possible “without negating the agency’s overall mission, or compromising the safety of individuals within our custody.”

The number of inadmissible individuals CBP is able to process varied based on factors such as the complexity of the case, available resources, medical needs, translation requirements, holding/detention space and port volume, the agency said.

Tucson siblings — separated from Mom by the border for years — find ways to thrive

Family friend Lety Rodriguez, right, was on hand for Naomi de la Rosa’s high school graduation ceremony. Rodriguez has helped support Naomi and her siblings since their mother was barred from returning to the United States for 10 years in 2009. Perla Trevizo/Arizona Daily Star

Naomi de la Rosa is undecided about becoming a nurse or a teacher — she just wants to help people, a lesson she’s been learning and putting in practice for almost 10 years now.

“I want to be a teacher because I love little kids. Basically because of Bobby, I had to take care of him,” she says of her 13-year-old sibling. And a nurse, “because of my dad,” who she’s also had to learn how to take care of.

During her recent high school graduation ceremony there were a dozen relatives and friends holding signs with pictures of her, proud of everything she had accomplished. They waited anxiously as she walked on the track field to her seat, and had smartphones in hand when school officials called her name.

But some of those closest to her were missing. Her elderly father was at home with her youngest brother, Bobby. The family feared it would be too hot and chaotic for the frail 85-year-old. Her mother was about 60 miles away in Nogales, Sonora, waiting out a 10-year immigration bar that prevents her from coming back to the United States.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Federal judges in Tucson recommending illegal border-crossing parents, children be reunited

Volunteers from Parroquia del Carmen (a Nogales, Sonora parish) set up a table to serve breakfast to the more than 50 migrants, seated at right, queued at the Mexican side of the DeConcini Port of Entry on May 31, 2018, in Nogales, Sonora. The majority of them are family units from Guatemala. Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

Federal magistrate judges in Tucson are showing signs of pushing back against a Trump administration practice of separating parents from their children after crossing the border illegally.

In more than two-dozen recent cases, judges in Tucson recommended children, some as young as 7 years old, be reunited with their parents after the parents are released from custody, U.S. District Court records show.

The magistrate judges’ recommendations for reunifications come as the Trump administration employs a zero-tolerance policy in which Border Patrol agents refer for prosecution everyone they apprehend along the border, including parents.

In Southern Arizona, parents and their children illegally cross the border near Lukeville and flag down agents or otherwise surrender, according to the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

While those parents face judges in federal criminal courts in Tucson, others immigrants head to a port of entry in Nogales where they spend days waiting to cross over for a chance to ask for asylum in the United States.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.