After crossing the border with the United States, a Honduras boy in a shelter asks his mother, “Why am I still here?”

A young mother wishing to asylum in Honduras reunited with her five-year-old son on March 24, 2021, after nearly a month away at El Paso International Airport in Texas. Her son came to the United States with his uncle, but was separated and placed in a Texas shelter and later moved to New York.  (JR Hernandez / Los Angeles Times)

Ruth reunited with his five-year-old son Joshua at El Paso International Airport in Texas after nearly a month away. (JR Hernandez / For The Times)

When Ruth spoke to his five-year-old son, Joshua, on the phone last week, he didn’t sound like the same clear and witty boy hiding his emotions to avoid his mother’s worries.

Instead, Joshua slowly answered Ruth’s question. He looked far away. He had no choice but to reveal his feelings.

“Mom, when are you going to take me out of this place? Why am I still here?” He asked her in Spanish. “Every day here is longer and more intense.”

At that point, survived Two hurricanes Joshua, who had crossed most of North America, was detained by US federal authorities in a Texas shelter and then detained in New York for nearly a month. He was separated from his family and under the control of the US government. Ruth, who traveled to the United States a few months ago, was anxiously waiting for her son in a New Mexico apartment given to her by a US sponsor.

Renamed to protect his identity, Joshua is one of thousands of children and teenagers who have arrived on the southern border of the United States since January without a parent or legal guardian. He has more than 11,000 minors accommodated by the Refugee Resettlement Administration (ORR), an office within the Department of Health and Human Services, where Congress is responsible for the care and placement of unaccompanied migrant minors. I was alone.

Analysts called for a sudden increase in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children, as well as the rapid escalations of the past in 2014 and 2019, a record high during President Trump’s time. Is on track to break. The increasing arrival of immigrant children poses a logistic, moral and political challenge to President Biden’s fledgling administration.

These children, who are detained in detention or shelter away from their families, face serious trauma and, as evidence suggests, have acute, lasting and lasting effects on the mind and body. May give.

The government is struggling to safely protect and care for minors before releasing them to parents, other family members, or scrutinized sponsors in the United States. ..

This month, the Biden administration instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist border authorities in controlling the arrival of minors at the border. In addition, authorities are struggling to open some temporary inflow facilities, primarily in Texas. The children will be housed in the San Diego Convention Center by this weekend.

On Wednesday, Biden becomes Vice President Kamala Harris lead Government efforts to address the rise in immigrants on the US-Mexico border are greater cooperation with Central American countries El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where many immigrant children begin trekking north. Blame her for major diplomatic relations to promote.

Joshua’s journey began with his mother, Ruth, in the working-class neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city. This city is one of the cities with the highest homicide rates in the world. Ruth urged her and Joshua’s full identity not to be revealed due to the gangster’s threat to her life.

When 15-year-old Ruth came out as a lesbian, gang members began to harass her at school. They raped her several times, and as a result she became pregnant with Joshua. For years she traveled to different parts of the city to escape members of the gang. But they always seemed to find her.

The last time they found her was last summer. If a member of the gang rapes her again and she doesn’t agree to become a “mule” and transport drugs for them, she “gets to the bottom of the ditch with just flies for the company.” I told her. She said rape brought about another pregnancy.

Desperately, she told her family that she had to leave the country. Her mother, father and brother agreed, but begged her to leave Joshua with them.

“It was the most difficult decision,” she said. “But I didn’t want him to be yet another orphan because his mother stayed and was killed by the gang.”

She left in the fall and traveled north to Mexico, earning enough money to finance her trip. She thought she might stay, but couldn’t do enough to calm down. She also found that Mexico was as dangerous as Honduras, especially for immigrants, recognized for its accent and prone to prey on cartels and gangsters.

On her dangerous journey, she learned about a New Mexico woman named Jean Thompson who sponsors asylum seekers and helps them settle into a new life in the United States.

Ruth holds a little daughter while living in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Ruth holds a little daughter while living in a studio apartment in Las Cruces, New Mexico (JR Hernandez / For The Times)

In November, Ruth surrendered to the border authorities of the Mexican city of Reynosa and sought asylum. She gave them Thompson’s name and number and told them that she would sponsor her. Authorities confirmed the information and let go of Ruth while she was fighting the asylum case in court. Thompson pays for a studio apartment in Las Cruces for Ruth and her little daughter, Joshua’s sister.

“I missed Joshua, but I knew he was on good terms with my brother and parents,” she said. “But then there was a hurricane.”

In November, the sun-dried house where Joshua lived with his relatives remained tattered after two Category 4 hurricanes struck the area. The family’s main donor, the uncle, lost his job as a result of a pandemic.

A few days after the house collapsed, Joshua’s uncle called Ruth in New Mexico and told her she was going to travel to the United States to make money to help rebuild her family’s house.

“I’m going to take the boy. He misses you,” her brother told her.

22-year-old Ruth was worried about the dangerous journeys and harsh conditions of the children he witnessed at the border. But she was keen to see and hug her son again.

Her brother was Joshua’s father — helping her take care of him since she was born.

“He will protect him,” she thought.

On February 18, Joshua and his uncle crossed the border near Reynosa, Mexico, across from McAllen, Texas. They left themselves to the border authorities that separated them.

Under US immigration policy, children traveling with someone other than their parents or legal guardians are quickly separated from adults traveling with them. The child is then classified as an unaccompanied minor and becomes a federal ward.

The Immigration Bureau expelled his uncle to Honduras. On February 21, Joshua arrived at the Sunny Glen Glendlens Home New Day Resiliency Center in Raymondville, Texas. When Ruth heard the news, her heart sank. She gave birth to her daughter a few days ago. Now she had to get her son back.

From the beginning, Ruth said he adhered to everything the Texas shelter caseworker asked of her. She sent him an ID card and a boy’s birth certificate. When the shelter requested her fingerprint and her sponsor’s fingerprint, both were submitted, although not required by the ORR guidelines.

A few weeks later, Joshua was moved to the Kayuga Center in New York City. According to Ruth, the caseworker told her that she had moved the boy to New York to create a place for more children in a Texas shelter. When he arrived, the new caseworker called Ruth for his son’s birth certificate, her ID, and other information he had already provided to the Texas caseworker.

“He doesn’t cry when we talk on the phone,” Ruth said this month. “But you can see that he was crying. His cheeks and small nose are dyed red.”

A spokesperson for the Federal Department of Children and Family Affairs did not comment on Joshua’s case because of the agency’s policy on the privacy and security of unaccompanied children.

Some Republicans attacked an ever-growing number of young migrants, claiming that many were victims of trafficking.

Government statistics do not track children smuggled across national borders by “coyotes” or villains or families.

In 2015, ORR Additional requirements for parents or other sponsors after federal officials reportedly released migrant teenagers to traffickers and worked on Ohio egg farms under slavery-like conditions I imposed.

These additional requirements for parents or other sponsors may even add to the period during which the child is under federal control and discourage parents or other sponsors from proceeding or succeeding in the process.

Joshua’s case is unusual in that he is part of a cohort of relatively small children with ORR custody. In 2020, children under the age of 12 16% of unaccompanied minors, According to government data. Most were teenagers.

However, it seems natural for Joshua to stay in a shelter for 32 days. According to officials, children stay in facilities sponsored by health and welfare services for an average of 37 days. The highest average was between 60 and 90 days during President Trump’s time.

Twice, New York shelter officials promised to return her child to Ruth, but only a few hours later she turned her back on their promise. At that time, he was a pediatric psychiatrist and Last one — A Los Angeles-based non-profit organization working on a reunion of separated immigrant families — asked an immigrant lawyer to write a letter to the ORR. Evacuation shelter officials promised to place Joshua on a plane to El Paso International Airport the next day.

Reunited on Wednesday, Ruth and Joshua hugged.

“The nightmare is over,” Ruth told him.

Ruth and his son Joshua leave the airport.

Ruth and his son Joshua will leave El Paso International Airport after reuniting on Wednesday. (JR Hernandez / For The Times)

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..