Monday, July 16, 2012

In Mexico, Honduran immigrants under fire

Resting at the migrants' shelter, which neighbours want closed/  CNN

Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Tultitlan, Mexico - Neighbors on this tiny, sun-soaked street know each other's names. They pray together at a church with stained-glass windows that they can see from their front steps.
But for years, they say, immigrants have been pushing their community apart.
Residents here say they stopped feeling safe when strangers started lingering on street corners and leering at locals. They created neighborhood watch patrols to keep crime in check.
"It's not that we're against immigrants," Osvaldo Espinosa says. "We just want them to get rid of that house."
It's the kind of complaint heard often these days in small-town America or on blocks in big U.S. cities struggling with a flood of foreign residents.
But this house is in Mexico, where activists warn that fierce anti-immigrant sentiment in some places has become just as strong as it is north of the border.
More than 100 immigrants from Central America arrive daily in Lecheria, this working-class neighborhood outside the country's capital. Most are Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans who don't stay long; they are stowaways on cargo trains heading north to the United States.
But for more than three years, many of them have stopped on Espinosa's street for warm meals and a few nights' sleep at an immigrant shelter. It is one of dozens in Mexico run by the Roman Catholic Church.
Priests said the Casa del Migrante -- the immigrant's house -- was a safe haven for vulnerable people on an increasingly perilous journey.
Residents told public officials, reporters and police that people living near the shelter were the ones who were in danger.
Black and white banners went up outside homes. "Residents of Lecheria demand the closing of the Casa del Migrante."
Inside the shelter, words were painted on a wall beside a map of Mexico: "If the immigrant is not your brother, God is not your father."
'Almost everybody gets assaulted'
Juan Jose Arevalo Larios was barefoot when he walked through the Casa del Migrante's door last September. Dried blood was caked on his toes.
"They stole my shoes from me," the Honduran immigrant said, describing a robbery a week before that also left him without money and without his brother's phone number, which he had tucked inside his wallet.
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