We have met many migrants along our journey with many of them willing to share their stories with us. Here is just a few stories from the migrant shelter we visited in Mexico City called Tochan Nuestra Casa (our house).
Jose is 18 years old and from Honduras. He just recently received his refugee status for the country of Mexico. He happily shared with us his refugee status ID which is a separate card from his Honduras ID. Although this allows him to legally reside in Mexico there is still a lot of prejudice and racism towards Central Americans and many private places do not recognize this ID (such as banks) making day to day life difficult.
Jose first left his community in Honduras when he was 16. Gangs were pressuring him to fight and do drugs. This led him to take ‘the beast’ up north to Texas. When he was 17 he was detained for three months. While there he tried to get an asylum case going but the lawyer he spoke with said that violence, gangs and drugs were not a special situation and everyone in Central American counties deals with that.
Thus he was departed back to Honduras. He tried to hide from the gangs and not let them know he returned but they found out. He was living with his grandma at the time and the gang told him if he did no cooperate with them they would kill his grandma. He did not cooperate and a gang member shot him in the leg. Once he recovered he fled to Mexico and that is how he wound up in Tochan Nuestra Casa.
Miguel and Gerry
Miguel and his 16-year old son Gerry are from Honduras as well. They lived with Gerry’s two other brothers back in Honduras. One day when Miguel’s oldest son was going to school he was kidnapped and killed by the local gang. Due to this and the other social problems being experienced Miguel and his two remaining sons decided to flee north. ‘The Beast’ is extremely dangerous with cartels and gangs charging for migrants to ride the train. Miguel and his sons tried getting on the train a number of times, each time being stopped by a gang member who demanded money. They never had any. One time they were being accosted by a gang member when a policeman approached. They thought the police man was there to help them but instead he gave the gang member a gun to continue accosting Miguel and his two sons.
Another incident that occurred was when Miguel and his two sons witnessed gang members rape and kill a mother and her eight year old daughter. Miguel remembers feeling guilt and fear as they could not do anything to stop it from happening.
This scared Miguel’s second son so much that he decided to stay behind leaving just himself and Gerry on their journey North. The two of them decided not to try and take the train anymore but instead walk. They spent two weeks walking to Mexico City.
These stories are hard to hear. Our hearts break for the suffering and violence experienced by our fellow humans, and now friends. Each migrant’s story is unique and we are eager to share more of what we have heard with you when we return.