I spend a lot of time these days talking about migration and US immigration policy. I talk about it in workshops and conferences in El Salvador. I talk about it to church groups and others in the US. I write about the subject constantly as part of El Salvador Perspectives.
One thing I am convinced about is that we need to hear each other's stories. US audiences need to understand the violence and desperation which force people to migrate from El Salvador and the other Northern Triangle countries. Audiences in El Salvador need to hear accurate stories of what awaits anyone who might attempt the perilous journey through Mexico and what awaits them legally, culturally, economically and socially in the US.
Two well written, photographed and video-ed pieces of journalism came out this past week which help understand those stories. I urge you to read them in their entirety, not just the headlines, and then share them and encourage friends to do the same.
In an article titled, With her daughter facing certain death in El Salvador, a mother had to make 'a terrible choice', Matthew D. LaPlante for the Deseret News, offers a frank look at the conditions in El Salvador, which could lead a parent to send his or her child on the journey north:
The day she would send her daughter north was approaching. And Carmen de Jesus was overcome with guilt and fear.
She knew the journey was replete with kidnappers, drug smugglers and extortionists. She knew migrants faced long desert marches and swift river crossings. She knew most travelers are turned back, and that some are never heard from again. She knew young women are often sexually assaulted along the way.
And she knew other parents whose children had met all these fates.
But she was sending her daughter, nonetheless. Because she also knew if the girl didn’t go, she was going to die.
The threats on young Patricia’s life had begun in the fall of 2016. Members of the Barrio 18 Sureños gang had concluded the girl was a police informant, and pledged to kill her.
“I knew they would do it,” de Jesus says as she looked out, through barred windows, at a broken-down police car parked in front of a friend’s office in the center of this bustling, volatile town, “because they had done it before.”Read the rest of Terrible Choice here.
The flow of human beings in the opposite direction, when the Trump administration deports a loving husband and father back to El Salvador, is depicted movingly in Deported to El Salvador, Trapped between the Gangs and Trump, which tells the story of Jose Escobar:
Escobar used to be a legal resident of the U.S. with temporary protected status but he lost that status when he was a teenager after his mother missed a deadline to file for renewal. When he tried to re-apply in 2006, an immigration court had already issued a removal order. After an outcry in the local community, ICE gave Escobar permission to stay and work in the country if he checked in annually. This year when Escobar checked in, officials detained him, deporting him days later.This article in The Intercept was written by Danielle Marie Mackey, Pedro Armando Aparicio, and Leighton Akio Woodhouse and includes a five minute video of interviews with Jose Escobar and his wife Carmen who is left in the US with their two children after Jose is deported.
Read the stories. Share the stories.