When they got here, Nicole and Joshua met children fleeing a variety of crises in Central America: gang violence, displacement in the wake of two major hurricanes, poverty deepened by the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve watched as more arrive every day or two.
Leslie, 13, was stopped by Mexican police at the border a few weeks after fleeing El Salvador, where she said gang members had threatened to sexually abuse her. Luis, 16, from Honduras, was caught at a checkpoint last week on the highway south of the city.
Mauricio, 17, and his brother Carlos, 15, were among the few who made it across the border. But they were promptly expelled by U.S. Border Patrol agents, as U.S. law permits because they are Mexican.
Now, the children here debate whether it’s better to return home and begin the journey to the United States anew, apply for asylum in Mexico, or try to find a lawyer who can help get them escorted across the border to Texas. Their stories paint a broad picture of why thousands like them have arrived at the U.S. border this year.
Luis, from the administrative region of Copán in northwestern Honduras, had planned what he would tell a Border Patrol agent. “They killed one of my uncles, then the other, then the other, and they were coming for me next. I know they’re coming for me next.”