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

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.

US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

Updated 20 January 2019

US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

  • US and Pakistan should have “strategic engagement”, not transactional relationship
  • The American senator sees a “unique opportunity” to change diplomatic direction of US-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD:  US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

The comments, which add to growing signs of improved relations between Islamabad and Washington, come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

"I've seen things change here and all in a positive direction," Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, told a news conference in Islamabad.

He said a meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump "far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today".

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship," he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by "strategic engagement", including a free trade agreement, he said.

US relations with Pakistan have long been dogged by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the Taliban towards a peace deal.

Trump, who has in the past argued for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, has made it clear he wants to see a peace accord reached rapidly although the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Graham's trip to Pakistan coincided with a visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and top military commanders including General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.

Khalilzad left Islamabad without announcing a new date for talks with Taliban representatives, who have refused further meetings until the US side agrees to discuss a timetable for withdrawing its forces.

The uncertainty has been increased by reports that Trump is prepared to order more than 5,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, a move that would represent a sharp change in course from Washington's previous policy of stepping up military action against the Taliban.

With Afghan forces suffering thousands of casualties a year and struggling to hold back the Taliban insurgency, the reports have caused alarm in Kabul, prompting many close to the government to question the US commitment to Afghanistan.

Asked whether there had been confusion over the US message, Graham, who has called for a Senate hearing on Trump's plans to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, said "without a doubt" but added that he did not believe Washington would stand by and allow a Taliban victory.

"The world's not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms. That would be unconscionable," he told Reuters. "Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly."