Sixty thousand undocumented minors are expected to smuggle into the U.S. every year. As these numbers increase, the risks they face along the way also rise.
Immigration reform and border issues are among top concerns for the White House. However, another aspect of it includes how to care for the minors who have crossed in search of their parents or children who are fleeing their home countries due to abuse or violence.
For a 26-year-old college student, grad school has been tough, but nothing in comparison to the journey that brought him to the U.S. 13 years ago.
Jose Luis Zelaya is from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, deemed until recently, the most dangerous city in the world. His mother and younger sister fled to the U.S. to escape violence in 2000. Zelaya’s mother, Eva Rodrigues lives in Houston, Texas. She says she’ll never forget the pain and guilt of leaving her son in the hands of her abusive ex-husband. Once arriving in the U.S., she worked tirelessly to save the money needed to bring her son back. In the meantime, Zelaya became a street child to avoid an abusive, alcoholic father, and focused on survival.
Immigration expert, Tony Payan says more migrant youth are coming to the U.S. He says something needs to be done besides sending them to detention centers or deporting them. “They get lost in the system so it will end up costing a lot but I think it is part of the consequence of an immigration system that is broken and the inability of congress to fix the system itself to allow families to reunify,” he says.
Zelaya still remembers the pain of his youth. However, he was determined to making the most of his opportunities in the US by learning English in junior high, excelling in sports and graduating with honors in high school. Now he is what they call a Dreamer under Obama’s deferred action bill that gives him temporary legal status to live in the U.S.
While his future is bright as a PhD candidate at Texas A&M, Zelaya says his mission is to be a teacher. He wants to share his story, hopefully inspiring others to make a difference. Zelaya says, “It’s now a duty to be able to share this story. Values of freedom, of education, of caring, of wanting to inspire people.”
CCTV America Correspondent Ginger Vaughn reports the story of this young man who endured a 45 day, 3200 kilometer journey across Central America into Texas in search of his family.