International - September 24, 2021

Even in late summer, few migrants attempt to cross into the United States from the Mexican border town of Mexicali. The temperatures are brutal, consistently in the mid-40C. And beyond the neighbouring US town of Calexico, lie many miles of inhospitable desert.

Attempting the journey in the searing heat would be madness.

Yet the migrants gathered in a Haitian restaurant a few blocks from the border wall have already been through worse. Especially Fiterson Janvier and his family.

As they finish a Creole-style meal of chicken, rice-and-beans and plantains, there is both exhaustion and disbelief in their eyes. Exhaustion at their journey from South America over the past few months, and disbelief at some of the things they witnessed and experienced along the way.

“I left my country on 26 August 2014,” explains Mr Janvier, his three-year-old son absentmindedly playing with a toy car on the restaurant floor.

Having spent several years in Brazil, he moved to Chile, met his wife and they had a child. But as they could not move beyond the lowest social rung in South America, they decided the time was right to attempt to reach the US.

“We have been through eleven different countries to get here. Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador…” Mr Janvier begins to name them in order, describing an extraordinary journey on foot and bus, that traverses the Andes and the Amazonian Basin.

It was a deeply harrowing trip too.

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