They are from a Central American country and had traveled a long way to arrive at our Southern border. I asked the father, Juan, why he risked the dangers of traveling in a caravan surrounded by thousands of strangers. His response was that he had no choice. “They came into our village and they wanted to take me. They already murdered my two brothers and massacred many in our village. So, I took my wife, son, nephew and my two sisters and left to join the caravan.” I asked him how he knew about the caravan, Juan told me that buses were going through the villages announcing through loud speakers that the caravan was about to leave. “I knew there was no other choice because if we stayed we would all be killed.” He went on to say, “We started on the caravan and walked many miles, but then we found out there were buses who would take us to the border for a fee. I took the opportunity because there were many a bad people traveling on the caravan and I didn’t want to take a chance.” So they traveled for days until they reached the border.
Juan’s story is like so many others who are escaping the violence and corruption of their native lands. They crossed the border and declared their need for asylum, and they were detained in a Border Patrol detention facility. After clearing the legal hurdles his family was vetted through a background check to ensure there was no criminal record, and cleared medically. Like many of these refugees, Juan and his family had family sponsors who live in the United States. In Juan’s case his family lives in Florida. Prior to their release they are given documents by the Border Patrol which legally allows them to travel. They are permitted to travel legally, but are prohibited from working in our country.
Juan pleaded with me to help find his nephew. He explained to me that his nephew was separated from them by border authorities at the port of entry in another border town many miles away from us. He worried he may have been taken by human traffickers. This is a common occurrence. Human traffickers will take children and place them with couples to help ensure the couples entry into the United States. Many times children are sold into the sex trade so Juan’s fears were well-founded.
Phone calls were made to help find his eight-year-old nephew. First reports were that the boy was taken by an unidentified individual, but after more investigation it was found that the boy was with his aunts, Juan’s sisters. A flood of relief washed over the young father’s face.
This is Juan’s story, but it is a story that belongs to many families who wait an uncertain future. Gratefully churches provide valuable aid to these families once they enter across the border. This aid is in the form of shelter, food, transportation. The United States Customs and Border Patrol are grateful for this assistance since their ranks are overwhelmed with the high number of immigrants who are now crossing our borders.