(Miami Herald).- Elias was at home in Venezuela awaiting word from his 21-year-old son, Jose, who, after weeks of crossing Central America and traveling on foot through the dense jungle separating Panama and Colombia, had finally made it to the U.S.-Mexico border. The phone finally rang on Tuesday, May 22nd, but it was not the call Elias was expecting.
His son had been kidnapped along with 14 other migrants as they traveled on a bus through Reynosa, a Mexican town across the border from McAllen, Texas.
If Elias wanted to see Jose again, the caller on the line said, he would need to send $1,000. Then the caller passed the phone to Jose. “He said, ‘Dad, I need that money for them to free me because I have just been kidnapped,’” said Elias, who spoke to the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald but asked that neither his nor his son’s last name be used. “Before he could ask any questions, they grabbed the phone and warned that if they didn’t receive the money by the next day, the boy ‘will be taken to the bushes.’ “
Venezuelans have to face ordeals such as drug gangs, smugglers, corrupt cops, and more on their way to the U.S. border.
As migrants continue to make their way through Mexico in hopes of getting to the U.S. border and across, concern is growing among immigration advocates that they will be targeted by gangs.
Just weeks before ending a pandemic-era public health order known as Title 42 and ushering in new asylum rules that allow the U.S. to return up to 30,000 migrants back to Mexico each month, the State Department issued a travel warning about the country.
Source: Miami Herald