By Ash Hawken
A 2,500 Mile Journey
A father and mother of four boys (the youngest then 2 years-old) trekked from southern Honduras to the US border at Nogales, Arizona — mostly walking the 2,500 mile trajectory through three countries over an eight week stretch of arduous days and sleepless nights. They sometimes walked in a caravan with other migrants, but mostly walked on their own.
Their journey took them over mountain passes, across swift rivers and through barren stretches of desert. Along the route, as with other migrants, they endured the extortion of local officials and threats of petty criminals. Their biggest scare was when one of the boys was briefly separated from the group in Mexico City. Their greatest hope was that they could beat the odds and overcome the hostility of U.S. Border officials to finally reach the safety of relatives, migrants like themselves, living in Falls Church, Virginia.
There was no alternative for taking these risks. The young mother’s brother had been murdered by gang members a month before they departed. The father’s role in the Honduran military’s interdiction of drug traffickers placed a target on his back. Depart with the family or stay and make their children orphans. No choice at all.
Meeting the Migrant Team
The Holy Trinity Migrant group became aware of the family’s successful arrival at the border in a message from the Kino Border Initiative in February of 2019. Could we help? Could we accompany this family as they sought asylum in our country?
We assisted their travel to the DMV area and secured pro bono legal services through Just Neighbors to help them navigate the many and onerous obstacles placed before them by ICE officials in the service of a repressive national immigration policy. After a temporary abode with relatives, they settled into a two-bedroom townhouse, the rent guaranteed by a willing co-signer and the furnishings put into place by scores of Holy Trinity parishioners and their friends.
Things were moving in the right direction. The three oldest kids entered into the Fairfax County public school system. The dad landed a day job on a wholesaler’s delivery truck and the mom waited tables for tips in the evening. They were paying their rent and other bills. Scores of volunteer drivers showed up to help them get to appointments, set up bank accounts, lease utility services and be present for immigration appointments and court dates. An asylum hearing was set for 2024. With our help and their energy and optimism, things seemed to be in place.
With the March 2020 shut-down, the jobs disappeared. With the closing of schools, the challenges of virtual learning began. How would the family stay safe and, with no income, obtain food and other necessities?
Since that time, the Holy Trinity Migrant group has remained at the side of this struggling family. Financial backup for rent and utilities and the identification of community food services has kept it healthy and optimistic. Computers were donated for the kids to follow their teachers remotely and our members continue to look for ways to cut through the bureaucracy to obtain rudimentary health care, social security status and jobs.
With the help of our benefactors, we will continue to accompany this family until the pandemic is over and they are back on the track to sustainability and independence. It is approximately eight miles from Georgetown to Falls Church. We will need to make many trips back and forth to the home of this proud family for us to equal some 3,500 miles that it traveled to become part of our community.
We are ready for the journey.
Learn more about the HT Migrant Team and how get involved.
Learn more about Just Neighbors, the organization that provides immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in the DMV, and donate to help support their mission.