Pregnant migrants want their children ‘to be American’

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Salvadoran pregnant woman Delmer Roxana Martinez, who is heading in a caravan to the US, is pictured in Escuitla, Chiapas State, Mexico, on October, 24, 2018. (AFP)
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Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the US, resume their march from San Pedro Tapanatepec to Santiago Niltepec, Oaxaca State, Mexico, on October 29, 2018. (AFP)
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A Honduran migrant woman taking part in a caravan heading to the US, is having and ultrasound done to check his pregnancy, during a stop in their journey at the Central Park in Huixtla, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2018
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Pregnant migrants want their children ‘to be American’

  • “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” said Trump of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment that grants US citizenship to those born on US soil

TAPANATEPEC, México: Two months ago, Marisol Hernandez’s husband was gunned down by gangsters for refusing to work for them. For the pregnant 23-year-old, that was the last straw.
She left her two children with her grandmother and decided to set off among thousands of other Honduran migrants in a bid to reach the United States. In her case, because she wants her next child to “be American.”
She is far from alone. Dozens of pregnant women are among the migrants, now in Mexico, fleeing poverty and violence in their homeland in search of the American dream.
But the hope that her unborn child will be American and “graduate in something, study, speak English, know about computers and things like that,” is being threatened by President Donald Trump’s apparent determination to abolish birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants and non-citizens.
“It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” said Trump of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment that grants US citizenship to those born on US soil.
For now, Hernandez is hoping that in six months’ time, her newborn baby will become a citizen of the United States.
Her story is a harrowing, but typical of those among the estimated 7,000-strong caravan heading through Mexico toward California.
She used to work in a clothing shop but two months ago “mareros,” gang members, killed her husband with “a bullet between the eyes” on his doorstep as he returned from work.
“He refused to work as an extortionist,” said Hernandez. The next day, she started receiving threats.
She left her two children behind “because I can barely feed them” and set off in search of a better future.

For the last two weeks, she’s been sleeping in the street without a roof over her head and walking for 10 hours a day, when not hitch-hiking on trucks giving rides to migrants.
The road is long and Hernandez is beset by doubts.
“At times I want to go back because I feel like neither I nor the child will manage” the rest of the journey, she said in a moment of rest from lugging her heavy suitcase.
The route became longer last Friday when the majority of undocumented migrants voted in favor of diverting from the Pacific highway running up to California and headed inland to Mexico City to ask for legal documents that would allow them to travel freely around the country.
Hernandez is gradually regaining her strength to continue the slog so that her child can grow up far away from “the parasites” in her home country who use threats to recruit children into their gangs.
She has no intention of taking up Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s offer to stay in the country because it’s on condition of claiming asylum and living in the largely impoverished and indigenous-populated states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
“It would be the same as living in Honduras,” complained Hernandez.
She says she’s heard medical volunteers accompanying the caravan claim there are 42 pregnant women in the group.

“We’ve seen a lot of pregnant women but they don’t come to us. It seems like they don’t trust us,” said Julio Mendoza, a medic in the town of Huixtla.
Julia Martinez, a nurse who’s been handing out vitamins to women, says she’s seen some that up to “30 weeks pregnant.”
It’s not just Hondurans on the long march to the US.
Salvadoran Delmer Roxana Martinez, 29, is three months pregnant and traveling with her three-year-old son, husband and cousin but she left behind a nine-year-old daughter in San Salvador.
“God knows that it’s not out of ambition (but) it would be beneficial to the family” if her child were born in the US, she says.
Stephanie Guadalupe Sanchez is only 15 but seven months pregnant and walks with difficulty.
“I want a good job and future for my child. It would have a better life if we live there in the United States,” she said, before heading off to her bed for the night, in a small space in the central square in the town of Pijijiapan.


Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

Updated 43 min 33 sec ago
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Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

  • At least 7 people were killed in the attack on the Afghan communications ministry in Kabul
  • The area around the building was sealed off by police as at least 3 attackers battled security forces for several hours

KABUL: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the communications ministry in central Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in a deadly, hours-long assault that destroyed weeks of relative calm in the capital.
The Taliban said it had “nothing to do” with the attack, which left some 2,000 people stranded in the tall office building for hours at the start of the Afghan work week.
No other group claimed immediate responsibility, but the Afghan branch of Daesh has previously carried out multiple deadly attacks in the capital.
“As a result of today’s explosion/attack in Kabul city, two people have been martyred (killed) and 6 others are wounded,” the health ministry spokesman wrote in a tweet, adding 3 of the injured were women.
In a statement, the interior ministry said four civilians and three soldiers had been killed, though unverified social media posts suggested the final toll could be higher.
AFP journalists heard one big blast around 11:40 am (0710 GMT), followed by sporadic gunfire for hours afterwards.
“The information that we have is four attackers have placed themselves near the communication ministry and are engaged in gunbattles with the Afghan security forces,” Amanduddin Shariati, a security official in Kabul told AFP.
By about 5:00 p.m. (1230 GMT), the interior ministry declared the assault over.
“Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Panicked workers inside the 18-story building, believed to be Kabul’s tallest, moved up to the top floor as gunmen and Afghan security officials battled lower down.
One woman said she had been in a group of about 30 people on the 10th floor when the assault started, then was told to move up to the 18th floor as gunfire increased. They were all eventually rescued by commandos.
“Women were screaming and children of the kindergarten were the first to be evacuated,” the woman, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident. The information ministry initially said three suicide bombers had attacked a post office building at the ministry.
General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry.
Footage on local television showed a small plume at the building, and people climbing out windows on a lower level.
The presidential palace said in a statement “the enemies of Afghanistan have conducted a terrorist attack.”
“Once again they have created fear and have killed or wounded a number of innocent countrymen,” the statement read.
The communication ministry is located in downtown Kabul, about two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the green zone, a heavily fortified compound for foreign embassies.
The area is the city’s main commercial zone and is home to a large hotel.
Aside from a grenade attack on a military vehicle last week and persistent crime, the capital has in recent weeks enjoyed a period of relative calm.
Last year however saw a string of attacks including one where a massive bomb concealed in an ambulance killed more than 100 people.
The attack comes a week after the Taliban announced their annual spring offensive and amid ongoing fighting across Afghanistan.
It illustrates the sprawling nature of Afghanistan’s conflict, and the obstacles to peace even if a deal is reached with the Taliban.
This week in the Qatari capital Doha, a summit planned between the Taliban and officials from across Afghanistan was scrapped at the last minute due to bickering over who should attend the conference.
The collapse comes at a critical time and amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now control or influence about half of Afghanistan and 3,804 civilians were killed there last year, according to a UN tally.
Taliban officials are separately negotiating with the United States, which wants to forge a peace deal with the militants.