Faces of MPP
66,000 people intentionally stranded at the border. Thousands living on the streets and in makeshift refugee camps. 20,000 children at risk of violent attacks, all because of the cruel Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Sometimes the scale and statistics around MPP can be too much to truly grasp and they obscure the fact that behind each one of these numbers is one of us: a human being. We want you to briefly meet just a few people caught up in this monstrous policy. They share their stories of dating in a refugee camp, of resilience, of scary spiders, of love, of parenting, of hope.
DAVID AND KATHLEEN
“She lives on the opposite side of the camp from me, but I started seeing her on my walks to the the soccer field. I thought she was really cute so I asked for her number and we started texting.
I’m 15 and she’s 14. There’s not a lot of privacy here, but we spend a lot of time talking and watching videos on Facebook. We’ve only been out of the camp twice.
We’ve been going out for six or seven months now. I love her eyes. Her asylum appointment is coming up this month then I have mine the following one.
Kathleen is here with her mother. We’re all from Honduras but we grew up in different areas. Her family is trying to get Oklahoma, I’m trying to get to California. We don’t know what the future holds for us.”
“There are a lot of rats and ants here at the camp. I’ve seen snakes and spiders too, especially down by the river. There’s a tiny hole in our tent and I think that’s how spiders get in there. My mom put some bug spray around the tent once and I saw all the little spiders hurry out of there. One of them was huge. I’m five years old. ”
“There are moments when you just can’t take any more. I’ve had times when my body has started to feel really weak being here.
The only thing that makes me feel better is focusing on the fact I’m still alive. That’s how I comfort myself.
I’m from El Salvador and I’ve been here since September 2019. I was supposed to have my appointment with a judge in July this year but because of COVID delays now it’s at the end of December. Hopefully.
My wife and our two kids started their journey to the U.S. earlier than me. It took them a month and 20 days to get to the U.S. But I couldn’t travel with them so my 14-year-old son and I got here later – now we’re stuck here.
I’ve been giving my son a lot of vitamin C – lots of fruit high in vitamin C like oranges and lemons to keep him healthy. I’m doing everything I can to keep him safe from this virus. ”
Deiri and Diana
“My name is Deiri and I’m seven years old. I found a grandmother here who I love a lot. Her name is Diana and I love her so much. She’s taught me how to read, how to study, and she helps me with my homework.
I’m the only one here that calls her grandma. She calls me “nieta,” granddaughter.
I take care of myself. I’m always wearing my mask so I don’t get the virus. ”
“I met Deiri when I was teaching children here. I used to have 127 students but all the classes have been postponed due to COVID. ”
“It’s difficult here, especially if you have kids. Our tent is near the river so you constantly have to keep an eye on the kids. It’s also really hot and my three-year-old daughter is just fed up.
I carried her, walking all the way from Honduras. All I know is we walked a lot. I had a backpack on my back and I had her in my arms. I started the journey with little bottles of electrolytes that I carried in the backpack. If it wouldn’t have been for those little bottles of hydration, I don’t think my baby would have made it here alive.
I thought I’d spend Christmas 2019 in the U.S, but here we are. My baby’s had a birthday here, I had a birthday here. I have sponsors in the U.S. waiting for us.
I live off of $150USD a month, for me and my baby. I find it extremely hard, especially when my baby is sick. I don’t know how I’m going to make it.
My dream and my goals, they matter to God. No one else cares.”
“I didn’t start this journey looking for love, especially because my previous marriage didn’t work out. But I thank God because I came here and met a really special person. I’ve been with him for eight months now.
I met him when he came through for his asylum appointment. He’d walk by my tent and I didn’t really pay attention to him. But then one day he just stopped by to ask if he could talk to me. Apparently his culture is more forward like that. He’s Cuban and I’m from Honduras.
I love him. And it helps because I spend a lot time thinking of him, I make sure I look good for him. He’s good to me and it motivates me, it gives me hope. ”
“Everything is so extreme here. When it gets cold here, it gets really cold. You put a sweater on and you don’t feel any of the warmth. The worst is when it rains because the kids can’t do anything, you’re forced to keep them in the tent all day.
And when it gets hot, it’s really hot and the kids get heat rashes. You hear a lot of kids crying into the night because it’s so, so hot. It’s much hotter here than in El Salvador. The sun is just so much more intense here.
We’re coming up to one year here.
I never thought I’d end up here. But being a parent here is beautiful. It’s a gorgeous thing to wake up next to my babies and watch them reach their arms out to me. I make time for my kids, I’m focused my kids. It’s really important for me to be a mother.
But this is a struggle.
If the U.S. doesn’t let us in. We’ll have to hit the road and try something else. ”
Photos: Lexie Harrison-Cripps / RAICES