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All they will call you is deportee.

19 January 2015

Via Hermano Juancito:

Saturday after the Parish Council meeting and a meeting to prepare a workshop on the liturgy, I decided to take a quick trip from Dulce Nombre into Santa Rosa to make a few purchases.

As I was leaving town I saw a young man I know. I offered him a ride and we had an amazing talk.

At one point he told me that he had gone to the US last year, was caught by the Migra, held two months (June and July) in prison and then deported to Honduras.

imagesHe was very open and so I proceeded to ask him a lot of questions and got his permission to share his story, anonymously on this blog.

He is in his late twenties and has a high school degree in business administration. In the past he was involved a bit in the church. He had been unemployed for about a year and decided to go to the United States to seek employment.

When he got into Mexico, he realized the difficulty of the journey. A relative in the US offered to pay for a coyote who would lead him (with others) through Mexico. It cost three thousand dollars to get from southern Mexico to its northern border in with the US. It would have cost another two thousand to get to Houston.

He talked of sleeping with lots of people on thin mattresses on the floor and noted that he was often hungry during the trip.

But when he got over the border, he was picked up by US immigration authorities. He was first held in detention where there was little food. Then he spent two months in a prison before he was deported to Honduras.

I asked him why so many had tried to get to the US. He mentioned almost everyone had left Honduras or El Salvador because of the economic situation. There were a few who left because they had committed a crime in their home country. Only two Salvadorans said they had left to avoid the gangs.

I was surprised and pressed him. But he insisted.

He was in a detention jail with other adults. The situation with migrants who are minors may be very different.

It is, however, important to realize that poverty plays a critical role in the migrant crisis. 

The US is, according to reports I have read, planning to provide major funding to the Honduran government – partly to generate jobs, partly to help prevent migrants from leaving. This is in addition to the US funding related to the “drug war” which provides funding for the military and the police.

But tI do not believe that that is where the real changes need to be made.

Until serious efforts are made to deal with the structural poverty in Honduras the US can expect the wave of migrants to continue. More on the structures of injustice here some other day.

(Hermano Juancito is the “nom de internet” of John (Juancito) Donaghy, lay volunteer with the Catholic ciocese of  Santa Rosa de Copán.  He lives in Dulce  Nombre, Honduras).  Post reprinted with his permission.

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