“They were waiting outside the school, waiting for the students,” Salgado said.
Frustrated he’d refused to work for them, Salgado said,
“They beat me up. All of them got a hold of me, hitting me.”
Salgado was lucky. He said a girl had been killed. Her body was dumped outside the school, perhaps as a message to others at the school.
Salgado said when he got home, his mother was scared for his safety. He said when she decided they had to leave, he was excited at first until he realized what he would be leaving behind.
“My grandmother. My life is here, my friends, my family,” Salgado said.
Salgado said they didn’t want to leave but were forced to go or face the consequences. He and his mother were luckier than most Central American families who’ve turned themselves in after reaching the Texas border.
Salgado said instead of risking their lives walking across Mexico, they paid a smuggler $7,000. They traveled in vehicles and buses until finally crossing the Rio Grande in a raft three years ago.
Although he was relieved to have arrived in the U.S., Salgado said at first, they were lost because it was quickly getting dark. But he said they finally saw lights in the distance, an international bridge where they turned themselves over to Border Patrol agents.
Once in San Antonio, an immigration attorney helped him gain his legal permanent residency. However, his mother is still awaiting her asylum hearing. Now instead of fearing for his life in Honduras, Salgado is planning his future in America.
Salgado, a senior at Southwest High School, said his favorite subjects are math and science, but he’s still trying to improve his English.
“Got to learn, just learning, learning, learning,” he said.
Salgado said the translation app on his cellphone helps him communicate with his girlfriend who speaks only English.
Since he couldn’t have his phone during the STAAR test, Salgado said he had to use a dictionary.
He said he hopes to major in mechanical engineering, but his ultimate goal is
“doing business, making money.”
That’s his American dream.
By Jessie Degollado – Reporter KSAT
Cabrera and Edwuard are typical of the families flooding the border. While officials acknowledge the immigrants are coming from some of the most violent and poverty-stricken places in the world, they also say the border crossers, in believing they can legally stay here, have misunderstood U.S. immigration laws or been duped by smugglers.
Just since October, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley have detained more 200,000 people, including 40,000 traveling as families and 40,000 children traveling on their own. Many are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and the families and children routinely turn themselves in to the first law enforcement agent they see once they reach the border.
That’s what Cabrera and Edwuard did after spending 10 days traversing Mexico, mostly by bus and meeting with people she called “guides” along the way to help them avoid authorities.
To pay $3,500 to a smuggling group, Cabrera said she took out a mortgage on her home.
The journey went without incident, she said. In Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Edwuard and Cabrera forded the Rio Grande in a large, inflatable tube and, joining with other migrants they met, walked on a road through the South Texas brush until they came upon Border Patrol agents.
Cabrera said she’d heard about what would likely happen next. Rumors had been flying in Honduras that as long as she was traveling with her son, they’d be issued a permiso, a permit to enter the U.S.
“Many people were coming (to the U.S.), and when I asked them how they got here, they had been given a permit to enter,” she said.
Because of the thousands of women detained while traveling with children, immigration officials didn’t have the bed space to hold Cabrera and Edwuard. Instead, after four days in Border Patrol custody in the Valley, they were taken to Laredo, where they spent another couple of days before being issued their permisos and left at the bus station.
Except they weren’t permits to stay in the country. They were notices to appear in immigration court. Cabrera and Edwuard are expected to go before a judge in San Antonio, who will decide whether they can legally stay in the country.
Today, immigrants who spend a year or more in the country illegally face a 10-year ban before they can come back legally. The government now can use expedited removal, a way of quickly deporting immigrants caught near the border without a hearing before an immigration judge.
Immigration officials have since opened a detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, and are converting an existing center in Karnes County, creating hundreds of beds to accommodate more families and put them in expedited removal proceedings or ensure they appear before an immigration judge.
Falling through cracks
Critics of President Obama’s immigration policies say the decision to release thousands of women and children, like Cabrera and Edwuard, has just encouraged more to come here.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, the head of a working group appointed by House Speaker John Boehner, last week released recommendations calling for immigration officials to detain all families caught crossing the border and put them in front of am immigration judge within a week.
The hasty manner in which immigration officials began conducting deportations in Artesia and the facility’s remote location have caused problems, said Lisa Brodyaga, an immigration attorney representing family members from El Salvador who were detained in the Valley then taken to Artesia and put in deportation proceedings.
Her clients are the wife and daughter of a Salvadoran police officer who’s being targeted by the maras because he won’t work for the gangsters, Brodyaga said.
An asylum officer determined that her client didn’t fit in a “particular social group,” the legal term for someone eligible for asylum because of persecution, but Brodyaga said the woman didn’t understand the term. She tried to argue the case in front of a judge, but because the judges who are hearing cases in Artesia are doing so via teleconferencing from Virginia, her brief never made it to the judge and Brodyaga said she never received a notice of a hearing.
A judge ordered her client removed last week, Brodyaga said, and she has no way of appealing the ruling.
“The whole idea that you’ll have the hearing one day and you’ll be deported the next if you flunk it, there are flaws with that,” Brodyaga said. “The main problem is everything is being rushed now, nobody has time to do anything thoroughly and well.”