SIGUATEPEQUE, Honduras — Honduran Ruth Elizabeth Gomez gave up on her American dream after US immigration authorities locked her in a cold cell and then deported her back home.
After reaching Mexico by foot, the 25-year-old had paid a “coyote” to smuggle her across the US border by boat, only to be arrested after arriving in Texas.
“After the whole journey, (the detention) was the hardest part. Until then I had never suffered, even though I’d walked for long days feeling hungry,” Gomez told AFP.
After leaving her five and eight-year-old children with her mother, Gomez and her brother Jose Tulio joined the first Central American caravan that set off from San Pedro Sula in Honduras on October 13.
She left in the hope of joining her father, a taxi driver who emigrated to the United States 14 years ago and hasn’t returned home since.
Despite US President Donald Trump sending troops to guard the country’s southern border with Mexico and making threats to cut off aid to the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador if they didn’t halt the flow of migrants heading northwards, new caravans have continued to set off on the long journey.
Things hit rock bottom for Gomez on November 25, when she tried to scale a border wall between Mexico and the US.
She was among 2,000 migrants at whom US immigration agents fired tear gas to force them back.
“At that moment I felt like I was going to lose consciousness... I was on top (of the wall), I fainted and fell,” she said.
She was transferred to the northwest Mexican border city of Tijuana, where she spent six hours in a hospital and received treatment for her injured back.
She remained in Mexico, working in a supermarket before deciding to try her luck again.
She was caught and deported on January 19 to San Pedro Sula, with her “hands and feet in chains.”
Though her brother has remained in Mexico working in construction, Gomez says she won’t try heading north again “for fear of American migration.”
“For me it was the worst experience,” she said.
Gomez said she was kept in a “cooler,” a very cold room where she had to sleep on the floor.