A couple of weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of witnessing the reunion of a family from El Salvador. Marta and Jose are a part of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity Leadership Project, where Marta is a leader in the warehouse workers movement for justice. Son of Marta and Jose, Armando, is a 14 year old youth who finally arrived to the United States of America after a full month of traveling through Guatemala and Mexico without documents. All Armando wanted to do was to be with his parents and meet his brother Chris, who was born in the USA 8 years ago.
When Marta and Jose- a young couple were unable to find the opportunities needed to provide for their family in El Salvador they left Armando with Marta’s mother in search of a better future. For 10 years, this hard working couple worked in the USA without the opportunity to take a vacation and have only been able to communicate with their son Armando via telephone.
At the age of 14, Armando became vulnerable to the recruitment of gangs, like most youth in El Salvador his age. He is now a part of a different group, the children-youth from Central America traveling alone looking for their parents, and hoping the USA would recognized them as who they are: refugees.
Armando spent weeks detained in Texas waiting to be processed. Once he arrived to LAX both Marta and Jose cried. The reunion overwhelmed Marta. “It’s very hard to describe the feelings I had when I saw my son arriving at the airport after almost 10 years without seeing him,” she said. “It was very emotional to see him not (as a) little child anymore. I left him behind when he was 4 years old.” Marta’s joy was tempered by the reality of their son’s daring journey alone through several countries and across borders without documents. ” During all the time he was traveling (on) his way to America,” she continued, “my love for him strengthened my faith that we will be together soon. Thank God everything went fine and we are all together,” she confided.
Armando is very happy now, to be with his own family although he misses his grandmother he is happy playing with and having the opportunity to know his brother. Chris, his brother is happy with his ‘new” brother and to have someone to talk and play with. Armando has registered in High School, made new friends and is happy to finally live a normal family life with his parents and brother instead of being separated by borders.
Marta and Jose are happy with their 2 sons. Their hope is to be able to stay legally in the USA, continue working, paying their taxes as they have been doing, and raising a family without fear of a separation.
-Moisés Escalante-Senior Lead Organizer with IM4HI.