Escaping violence with children isn TMt a free pass
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:08:48 GMT —
For 20-year-old Alejandra Enriquez making the trek from Honduras to the U.S. - Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley was a no-brainer.
The "Maras, also known as the Mara Salvatruchas were trying to extort money from her family-run school supply store.
When she didn't comply, the gang members threatened to kill her three-year-old son Axel.
Enriquez knew it was time to flee the country.
"If you have a two-story house you have to pay them, if you have two cars, you have to pay them, if you have a business you have to pay them - if they think you have money they come after you," Enriquez said.
Alejandra is also about to give birth to her second child - a little girl.
She left for Louisiana at 1 p.m. Wednesday to meet up with her sister who has been in the U.S. for eight years.
She doesn't know what she'll name the baby girl, but she will be an American.
It's a dangerous journey that the pregnant young mother took, and one that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is strongly discouraging.
Just two days ago, he released a letter warning parents in Central American countries stating:In the hands of smugglers, many children are traumatized and psychologically abused by their journey, or worse, beaten, starved, sexually assaulted or sold into the sex trade.
Alba Villegas walked almost every night for 24 days through Mexico, with her 14-year-old daughter to get here.
She's looking to reunite with her husband in Boston because there are simply no jobs in Honduras.
She was scared her daughter would get sexually assaulted along the trip, but adds they had to come now.
An ad on television promised that illegal immigrants coming over to the U.S. with children, she said, would be pardoned.
Action 4 News informed her, that TMs not true.
"It's in God's hands now, I hope it will change and we can stay here, Villegas said. I want to work and I want my daughter to have the opportunity to get an education."
Johnson said this false promise by criminals is also contributing to the influx and must be stopped.
The smuggling operations are creating a misinformation campaign that there is a ~permiso TM or free pass, Johnson said. So the smuggling organizations have an incentive to induce these kids to have their families pay money to smuggle them up here so they are putting out misinformation."