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.


Hong Kong police begin to clear streets of protesters

An ambulance is pictured surrounded by thousands of protesters dressed in black during a new rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 10 min 22 sec ago
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Hong Kong police begin to clear streets of protesters

  • Nearly 2 million of the city’s 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organizers

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police and protesters faced off Monday as authorities began trying to clear the streets of a few hundred who remained near the city government headquarters after massive demonstrations that stretched deep into the night before.
The police asked for cooperation in clearing the road. Protesters, many in masks and other gear to guard against possible use of tear gas, responded with chants, some kneeling in front of the officers. The move came after activists rejected an apology from the city’s top leader for her handling of legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony.
Hundreds of protesters sat on and along a main road through downtown, but they were scattered over a relatively wide area.
Activists called on Hong Kong residents to boycott classes and work, though it was unclear how many might heed that call.
Nearly 2 million of the city’s 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organizers. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the “peak period” of the march. A week earlier as many as 1 million people demonstrated to voice their concern over Hong Kong’s relations with mainland China in one of the toughest tests of the territory’s special status since Beijing took control in a 1997 handover.
After daybreak Monday, police announced that they want to clear the streets. Soon after, police lined up several officers deep and faced off against several hundred demonstrators on a street in central Hong Kong.
The night before, as protesters reached the march’s end thousands gathered outside the city government headquarters and the office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who on Saturday suspended her effort to force passage of the bill.
Hong Kong residents worry that allowing some suspects to be sent for trial in mainland China would be another of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedoms and legal autonomy. One concern is that the law might be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials.
The protesters are demanding that Lam scrap the proposal for good and that she step down.
Protesters are also angered over the forceful tactics by police use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures as demonstrators broke through barricades outside the city government’s headquarters to quell unrest during demonstrations on Wednesday, and over Lam’s decision to call the clashes a riot. That worsens the potential legal consequences for those involved.
In a statement issued late Sunday, Lam noted the demonstrations and said the government “understands that these views have been made out of love and care for Hong Kong.”
“The chief executive apologizes to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledges to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public,” it said.
Not enough, said the pro-democracy activists.
“This is a total insult to and fooling the people who took to the street!” the Civil Human Rights Front said in a statement.
Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule. But some were skeptical that having Lam step down would help.
“It doesn’t really matter because the next one would be just as evil,” said Kayley Fung, 27.
Many here believe Hong Kong’s legal autonomy has been significantly diminished despite Beijing’s insistence that it is still honoring its promise, dubbed “one country, two systems,” that the territory can retain its own social, legal and political system for 50 years after the handover in 1997.
After Lam announced she was suspending the legislation to avoid more violence and allow additional debate, Chinese government officials issued multiple statements backing that decision. Lam, however, made clear she was not withdrawing it.
She has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and also defended how the police dealt with last week’s clashes with demonstrators.
Lam insists the extradition legislation is needed if Hong Kong is to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.
So far, China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.
Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among moves in recent years that have unnerved many in the city of 7 million.