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JESUS AND THE BRACELETS 19536 KM / DAY 283 / DECEMBER 24, 2011 - 04:12 / NOGALES, USA
Altar is a Mexican town as you would imagine it: in the desert, dusty and sleepy. The local priest takes me around. `This is a town where nothing happens, but at the same time everything happens...`, he says. Altar is one of the main last transit points for migrants going to the US. Very close to the border and the start of a long trek through the Arizona desert. In this town the drug cartels rule. Here is where people get kidnapped and/or extorted. The priest looks like a Texan cowboy, with his hat, shiny cowboy boots and his blinking belt. `Nowadays there are 800 migrants per week passing through. `Ah, and this is where people are being held hostage`, he says, pointing at a house with high walls and barbed wire. `If someone pays, they will be released, if not...` I get the point.
Back in Nogles that evening I visit a shelter where migrants who have been deported from the US stay for the night. One of them is Vincent Ortiz. He was deported two days before and is very upset. He is an American citizen. Moreover, he is a Native American and by no means a migrant. He shows me his Native American ID card. And still, his own government sent him to Mexico. Another man, Marco Antonia Lopez, sits on a bench. He tells me he came to the US when he was two years old. He has two children born and raised there. He doesn`t speak Spanish and looks lost. These two cases are illustrative of the great deficiencies in the US immigration system.
In the corner of the shelter stands a Jesus statue, around his arms are bracelets. They are identification bracelets that the migrants wore in the US migrant detention centers.
DAY 363 FINAL DESTINATION