Stories from the Border
15 February 2019
While the debate about the U.S.-Mexico border ensues, migrants and asylum seekers continue to seek safety and security in the United States.
These migrants and asylum seekers have a variety of needs as they manage through the current immigration system. Starting in December, a number of immigrants were released from detention, but had no place to go. Our partners identified this need and JRS/USA was able to provide resources to our partner, Annunciation House, to help with the transport of those in need.
Here are just a few stories of families who are seeking a better life in the United States, and a reminder of the people and families impacted by the national debate:
Olga and her nine-year-old son, Efrain, spent two months traveling to the U.S. from their native Honduras. Olga’s husband was killed eight months ago, and with no opportunity to get an income to take care of her child, Olga fled to the U.S. where Olga’s brother lives.
Olga and Efrain’s journey was long. They took a train from Honduras, and once they reached Guatemala, did all of their traveling by foot. During the journey, she had money stolen, they experienced hunger, and Olga described having “llagas” or blistered feet. When they finally reached the U.S./Mexico border, they were given a ticket number by immigration and were sent back to Cd. Juarez where they stayed at a shelter for almost two weeks, waiting for their numbers to be called. In late December, they crossed into the U.S.
After their release from immigration detention, Annunciation House took them in and provided their immediate needs. When a volunteer helped by calling Olga’s brother in Nevada to tell him about Olga’s release from immigration, she could hear him on the other end of the line, yelling throughout the house that Olga was coming home. Their joy and relief in his voice was so strong, and unforgettable. Olga is optimistic about her prospects in Nevada, and couldn’t be more grateful for the help Annunciation House has provided them.
Adriana and her two daughters, seven and 10 years old, left Guatemala in mid-December. Adriana was hoping to get to California to be reunited with her husband, whom she hasn’t seen in five years, and to offer an opportunity for a better life for her children.
From Guatemala to the U.S.-Mexican Border, Adriana and her daughters took buses, having around seven transfers along the route. Adriana carried a tiny flip phone along the whole trip, so that she could call her family in Guatemala and husband in California every day.
When they reached Juarez, the main hospitality site was full, so they were referred to a fire station that has been temporarily turned into a shelter for those seeking asylum in the U.S. After waiting there for close to a week, they crossed into the U.S. and were detained by ICE on Christmas day.
After their release, they went to Annunciation House shelter where Adriana and her daughters got some much needed rest while eagerly awaiting for their departure. The next day a shuttle came and picked up everyone who has a Greyhound ticket. Adriana and her daughters were very grateful to be among those people on the last stretch of their journey.
Felipe and his nine-year-old son Samuel traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala. They traveled for two weeks by bus and train. After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, they were held by immigration authorities for four days before being released to Annunciation House.
Annunciation House gave them a warm meal, clothing, and a place to stay, and helped them contact Filipe’s childhood friend who lives in California. They made a promise to each other back in Guatemala that whoever was able to reach the U.S. first would send back for the other, and so they kept that promise. Once his friend Francisco bought them bus tickets for them to travel from El Paso to California, Annunciation House volunteers helped them travel from the shelter to the bus station well ahead of their departure time.
On the day of their departure, while driving down the Interstate Highway that leads to the bus station downtown, Felipe looked around him at the bustling roads and remarked that El Paso is a blessed city. When asked to elaborate, he replied, “You don’t seem to need for anything here. In my hometown, we are lucky to eat meat once a month. There are no resources, no jobs, little income, and the prices for food and housing are higher than our earnings.” He was excited to start his new life in the U.S. and even asked how he could give back to Annunciation House in the future so he too could help give others the opportunities he now looks forward to.