Monday, December 15, 2008

They crossed illegally last night...

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.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh my. This is so moving.

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Ruth. I so wanted to do justice to their story. It was therapy for me to share it here.

One Fly said...

People in this country don't know what hard is-at least not yet anyway.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

That's a most powerful story. I join you in your anger.

My prayers are with them.

Dada said...

Thanks for sharing this B.E. This is a powerful story, sadly, not all that rare.

What's happening now to the "First World" is a crisis that will make many, many people refugees in their own countries.

These folks from Honduras are part of our family. I only hope in our own growing economic miseries we can recognize them as such and empathize with what they have had to endure all their lives.

They may be able to help us adjust to our new world now unfolding.

Russ said...

don't know what to say other than I will pray for them.....

Border Explorer said...

Russ, your comment sparks me to post on how you could help. There are things you can do to assist. Seeing suggestions in print may feel empowering. That is so important in the face of the horrifyingly evil components in this story.

I will get that info posted in the next one.

Yolanda said...

Me too. I know that on my worst days I am richly blessed. I told my husband yesterday that even if we lost everything I knew I still had his love and wasn't alone and I know that is all that really matters.

DCup said...

I really gives you perspective on how we live our lives and appreciate or not what we have. That's a good message. I guess if they allowed themselves to be angry, they might sink to depths from which they just couldn't have hope to recover. So they choose to move forward because that's why they've gone through all that. Amazing.

Thank you for sharing their story.

ThomasLB said...

There's something in me that just rebels at the idea that a person can be "illegal" just by being alive in the wrong spot on God's earth. I just can't wrap my head around that one.

Fran said...

I saw a film about border crossings & all the perils.
I can't imagine how difficult it is to split up families in this way - not knowing for months at a time if they are OK , and their whereabouts.

Dada said...

Fran: Hopefully not, but soon you may know? (J/K)

(Ahem, don't mean to make light of a very serious subject. Sorry. There's nothing funny about the misery invisible lines drawn on a map may bring.)

Carol said...

Thank you for being a voice for these strong, brave people.

D.K. Raed said...

Thanks for putting human faces on these events, B.E. We see them, they take the worst jobs, but we don't want to know where they go at night, or how they got here. Or so it seems.

Bruce said...

Good story. Stirring.
I'd like to illustrate your stories.

John Donaghy said...

Who knows if I might have met them on a bus here in Honduras or met them in their village.
Many Hondurans I meet jokingly ask about going to the US. I try to discourage them - but I'm also working in ways help them live a little better.
Just a little correction. Most poor Hondurans, if they work a regular job, are lucky to get $200 a month! Coke is about 65¢ for half-liter bottle but everything has gone up this year - beans and flour especially.

Border Explorer said...

Thank you, Everyone, for your comments that were each so apt. It really helped me to process this conversation having you all share the experience with me, albeit virtually.

Bruce: Welcome! You can e-mail me: borderexplorer at gmail

John: Thanks for your report from on-the-ground in Honduras!