Shared from an Article titled; Alternatives to detention leave some Honduran immigrants in "Shackles" - Latin America News Dispatch - LatinDispatch.com

When Eva left San Pedro Sula with her children this summer, she did not know what the journey would entail. A worker at a factory manufacturing shirts for Nike and Hanes, Eva had never traveled outside of Honduras. Some of her friends and family had moved to New York, but she rarely spoke to them.

Eva, Gabriel and Daria traveled to Guatemala by bus, where they stopped at a train station in the capital to beg for money. They then took a second bus to Mexico, before crossing the border into the U.S. by foot.

“I don’t like to talk about the experience,” Eva said. She was hesitant to share details about their migration, which culminated in a one-week detention at a facility in Texas before they were released and took a third bus to New York.

Pablo Blanco, a 38-year-old Garifuna who directs Elite Caribe International, a group that promotes Garifuna culture in the diaspora, said that many Garifuna women have been reluctant to open up about how and why they came to the U.S.

“A culture of fear has been instilled in these women, and now they don’t want to talk,” said Blanco, who has been attending the weekly meetings at Bronx Spanish Evangelical Church.

Garifuna from Honduras have been immigrating to the U.S. for decades. Around 1,000 women and children were part of the 88,491 Honduran migrants apprehended at the U.S. border between October 2013 and August 2014, according to Customs and Border Protection.

While Eva declined to discuss the reasons behind leaving, broad patterns affecting the Garifuna are clear. The Garifuna are not only fleeing violence in a country with the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, but also a government that has long marginalized their Afro-indigenous community.

Human traffickers known as “coyotes” facilitate the Garifuna migration, Garcia said, telling the women that if they travel to the U.S. with their children they will be allowed to stay in the country and work.

Carla Garcia addresses Garifuna during a community meeting at the Bronx Spanish Evangelical Church.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez acknowledged the problem of coyotes in a July press release, and U.S. authorities have tried to counter the use of human traffickers through a Danger Awareness Campaign that includes billboards and radio announcements throughout Central America that explain that new arrivals will not be exempt from deportation.

Blanco said, however, that the Honduran government also helps perpetuate the problems that push the Garifuna to leave their homes. In Honduras, he said, the Garifuna occupy an “invisible” status, and the government routinely displaces members of the community who live on pristine coastal lands ideal for tourism projects. In one recent example, 400 Garifuna from the Barra Vieja community were evicted by members of Honduras National Police in September in order to clear territory for an Indura Beach and Resort development.

“In Honduras it’s like we’re discriminated twice,” Blanco said. “We’re black and indigenous.”

“The Garifuna came here because they thought it would be different and that they would be safe,” Garcia, the activist, said. “And instead they are treated like criminals.”

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