Friday, September 5, 2014

Why do kids cross US border?

People ask, "How could decent parents send their kids to cross the US border alone?"

The story in today's Los Angeles Times answers that question, as does the memoir The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande (see previous post).

Kate Linthicum interviews one family from Honduras and tells their story.

It begins with the family's father, Marvin Varela, as a child dropping out of middle school to help his single mother sell tortillas on the street in Tegucigalpa.

When he grew up and married a local girl, Silvia Padilla, they wanted their daughters to have more opportunities than they had had.  Marvin left for El Norte, and later his wife followed him, leaving their daughters in the care of their grandmother.

They planned to return to Honduras, open a store, and build a house, but as years passed gang killings there changed their minds.

"Several of Marvin's childhood friends were killed for refusing to join," reports Linthicum.

They decided to send $8000 to have a coyote take their daughters from Honduras to the US, but the group was caught trying to cross the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas.

Dayana, 9 years old, and Katheryn, 13, were flown to a temporary children's shelter in Oregon and then released to their parents, who drove up from Los Angeles.

The two are now awaiting trial and plan to testify about the gang violence in Tegucigalpa and threats against their family, but their attorney says that most likely they will be deported.

The answer to the question "Why?" is simple.  

Most parents will make great sacrifices for their children, and international borders cannot stop them.

See also this story in 2002 by LA Times reporter Sonia Nazario, later made into a Pulitzer-prize winning book, Enrique's Journey:

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