Last night we picked up two men from Cameroon and Guinea when they were released from ICE detention. One of these men is a mechanic and the other ran a poultry farm. They just spent 5 and 9 months in ICE detention. Both of these men have harrowing tales from their journey.
For African asylum-seekers the journey to the United States is terrifying. From Cameroon one of the only ways to reach this continent is through Ecuador, because it is the only South American country that does not require visas. From Ecuador they travel to Columbia, and from Columbia they must pass through the Darién Gap, also known as the Panama Jungle. This is one of the most notoriously dangerous places in the world.
If you Google this location you will read “Drug smuggling and human trafficking are a big problem, and several tourists have been kidnapped or killed over the years by drug gangs and paramilitary groups that hide out in this super remote and largely ignored wilderness." The stories I hear are much, much worse.
People die from snakebites, spider bites, cliff falls, starvation, infection, and bad water.
It takes four or five days to pass through this jungle. About 90% of people are robbed. Dead bodies litter the forest. I’ve seen pictures and videos from countless cell phones. There are bodies floating down rivers and laying on the forest floor. People are murdered by robbers. People die from snakebites, spider bites, cliff falls, starvation, infection, and bad water. Out of the six people we have in our care right now, two of them told me stories of an Indian man being shot in front of them.
And this is just to get into Panama. Then they must travel through Central America and Mexico. Along this way most people are put into detention camps in Panama, Guatemala and/or Mexico along the way. Then they finally arrive at the US border and must wait to be processed. When their number is called they feel like they have won the lottery, but it’s only to be put in ICE detention.
People are profiting off this unimaginable suffering. And it needs to stop.
One of the men sitting next to me just told me his 10 month year old daughter died while he was in ICE dentition. He was in detention for five long months. Why are we putting people through this? Why are we needlessly imprisoning people who have already been through so much? The answer is simple. It’s because people are profiting off of it. People are profiting off this unimaginable suffering. And it needs to stop.