I visited this afternoon with three Hondurans who crossed the border between MX & the US last night, running through the dark down a mountain until they waded through the cold Rio Grande River. They huddled, shivering, last night in a stable, their hearts still pounding from slipping past the Border Patrol in the interval in coverage they judged to be three minutes.
They came because the economy in their country is "screwed." Even if you could land a "really good job" you might expect a salary of $100/week. Expenses there are the same as here. Pepsi is $2. A hamburger is $5. One hundred a week isn't enough. And you're dreaming if you think you'll make more than $60/week.
What work will they do here? "Anything!"
The three cousins left beloved family behind who are worried about them. For those loved ones they are here to eke out enough money to build "a humble home" back in Honduras--perhaps a two room house. Oh yes, they want to go back to them. "It is good to be with your family," the young woman stated simply.
Young--all in their twenties--they were relentlessly robbed and extorted throughout the almost two week journey by train through Central American and--perhaps worse--through Mexico (where they are also considered "Illegal Aliens.") They were robbed by police, by train security, by gangs and by common robbers. When they finally made it to the border they had 200 pesos between them (less than $20) until a knife-wielding bandit took even that.
They hopped trains to make the journey. They saw a woman who fell as she was severed at the waist when the train bisected her. They saw a man lose his foot to the train. One of them fell from the train and injured his leg, but he can still walk with pain. They want to continue on the train to seek out relatives who will shelter them in the U.S. They will need warmer clothing so as not to freeze.
They arrived here with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. No bag. No nothing.
I hugged the woman when I excused myself. "It is much harder on women," her cousin choked with clouded eyes. I fear she was raped. I could not ask. It wouldn't be right to ask.
They are not angry.
I am angry. Why are they not angry?
With all that is in me, I hope and pray that stories like theirs never lose their power to move me.