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"Climate of fear among the migrants"

Monday, September 4th, 2017 | World News

Already before the cyclone "Harvey" a climate of fear prevailed among the migrants as a result of the hard immigration policy of President Donald Trump. After the storm, they are particularly dependent on state support. But their fear prevents the immigrants from using this help.

Alain Cisneros runs along thousands of camp beds in the Houston Convention Center. The social worker holds up a poster on which in big black letters in Spanish "Do you have questions?" stands. He pulls up a chair and sits next to a woman from Honduras. She can tell her traumatic experiences during the hurricane "Harvey". Ricxy Sanchez had to put her three little children to safety when the water rose to her breast in her home.

Cisneros tries to build it. He assures Sanchez that despite her illegal stay in the US, she does not have to be afraid of deportation when she applies for state aid. The young woman has lost almost all her belongings because of the floods and is now thinking about returning to her native country, which has been shattered by violence. "Shall we stay here and suffer with our children?" She asks, shaking her head.

The scene illustrates the complex consequences of a natural catastrophe of "Harvey". Houston is a city with an estimated 600,000 illegal immigrants living under the Trump government already in perpetual fear. The authorities send social workers such as Cisneros to shelters such as the George R. Brown Convention Center to calm the insecure people. Social media and Spanish-language media channels are also used to disseminate information.

"We lost everything"
Immigrants are worried about the same worries as other flood victims: When can they return to their homes? When can they start making money again? How will they replace their losses? But among those who are without papers in the country, the fear of deportation comes to all this chaos. "We basically lost everything," says Sanchez, drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup. "Everything."

 The 23-year-old, who came to Honduras a year ago from Honduras, pulls her three children by the age of one, two and five years alone. She tells Cisneros that the family lives from their income as a maid since Sanchez left her violent husband two months ago. The 38-year-old Cisneros, who came from Mexico to Houston 20 years ago, asserts that as a victim of domestic violence, she enjoys a special protection status with better chances of asylum.

Houston is one of the most diverse metropolitan regions in the United States. Only in Los Angeles and New York live more immigrants without papers. The share of Latinos and Asians in the Houston area has almost doubled over the last 20 years. In a country-by-country comparison, only a few immigrants have American citizenship here. The city has the third largest population of Mexicans, Vietnamese and Hondurans, and many Pakistanis, Nigerians, Filipinos and Indians live here.

Climate of fear among the migrants
Even before "Harvey", a climate of fear prevailed among the migrants as a result of the hard immigration policy of President Donald Trump. Since the beginning of the year, the Houston office of the US immigration and customs authorities has gathered around 10,000 people – the second largest nationwide. Only in Dallas there were more choices.

When boats of the border guards emerged to support the rescue measures, many immigrants were frightened. However, the border guards, as well as the immigration and customs authorities, assured that no one was arrested in the course of the relief action.

The mayor of Houston, lawyer Sylvester Turner, received much praise from migrant organizations when he said on Monday that he would represent anyone who was arrested for an aid request for illegal immigration.

"Okay, now we believe it"
"That was a big thing," says Cesar Espinosa from the stakeholder immigrant families and students in need. "People hear that from us and say," Well, you tell us to stay calm. "But when they hear that from an official, they say," Okay, now we believe it. ""

In the congress center, social worker Cisneros also takes care of Adabella Fonseca. The 35-year-old rests with her ten-month-old daughter on a camp bed while her husband inspects the damage to the caravan where the family lives. The trailer had been completely flooded a week ago.

She had been anxious to avoid the immigration authorities looking for refuge in the center, says Fonseca, who has lived in the United States since her first year. Now she is afraid to leave the emergency shelter again.

Cisneros, who was already immigrating after the Hurricanes "Katrina" 2005 and "Ike" 2008, expresses Fonseca's hand, consoles it and promises her support. Before he leaves, he asks the young woman how she is. "Better," she says with a small smile.

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