McALLEN — Facing threats of gang violence, Yaritza Mejia and her two young daughters fled San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in May 2017 and embarked on a yearlong journey to a place where they could start over: the United States.
The family spent time at migrant shelters across Mexico but didn’t stay too long, fearing that — as migrants — they would be a target for the cartels. So on April 8, the 24-year-old single mother turned herself and her children in at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.
By this time, 9-year-old Ashely and 5-year-old Lissy were now joined by 5-month-old Oscar, who was born late last year in Monterrey.
Mejia and her children were released from a detention facility Wednesday and dropped off at McAllen’s bus station. Soon after, they found themselves at the Humanitarian Respite Center, which is operated by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, uncertain of where to go next while they await their April 18 hearing before an immigration judge.
The Mejias are one of many Honduran families recently apprehended while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The number of Hondurans apprehended by Border Patrol increased by 66 percent from December 2017 to March of this year, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
While apprehension numbers usually spike in the spring — giving rise to what President Donald Trump has deemed a “surge” in illegal crossings — the only real difference this year is the increase in Honduran migrants, said Adam Isacson, director of WOLA’s Defense Oversight program.
Despite a 37 percent increase in apprehensions from February to March of this year, the first six months of fiscal year 2018 (which began in October) still saw 34,000 fewer apprehensions than the same time frame in the previous fiscal year.
“The (apprehension) numbers through March are the highest so far in the Trump administration, but so far don’t rise above what’s seasonal; the only thing new is the Hondurans,” Isacson said, calling the increase “a mini surge of Hondurans.”