The horrific effects of the Trump Administration’s hard-line Migrant Protection Protocols continue to multiply. Targeting asylum-seekers and forcing them to, as the immigration mandate is better known, “Remain in Mexico,” the guidelines have created a crisis of its own at the border. In a report for Vice (airing its new season on Showtime), journalist Paola Ramos travels to Ciudad Juárez to investigate how these policies have turned asylum-seekers — Cubans, in particular — into a kidnapping commodity for the cartels and traffickers.
“If there is one thing COVID-19 has illuminated is that the concept of ‘survival’ can mean many different things to people,” Ramos tells Remezcla. “Today, asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border aren’t just trying to escape the virus, but also violence — even death. Our story ultimately shows the invisible yet deadly ripple effects of a controversial U.S. immigration policy and, in the face of this global pandemic, it could not be more relevant. Even as the virus continues to spread, the violence at the border doesn’t end.”
In the clip below, Ramos interviews a Juárez cartel hit man (whose face is obscured and voice is distorted). The conversation is a sobering watch offering a firsthand account of the violence at the border. As Ramos tells Remezcla, the interview “was the product of our producer, Miguel Fernandez-Flores’, years of in-depth reporting on Mexico’s drug cartels. Through his contacts with local journalists who’ve been covering this for over 40 years, we were able to gain access to that specific cartel. You may just see the reporters’ face on air, but there are always multiple people behind telling a story.”
The questions she asks him begin broadly (“Have Cuban people always been targets you actively looked for, or is it a new development?”) and end in specifics (“Right now, do you have Cuban people in abduction?”). Check out the clip below to hear his answers and get a glimpse of Ramos’ report from the front lines of this new migrant hostage crisis.
Vice airs on Showtime Sundays at 8 p.m.