The U.S. Tries to Deport Not Protect Children Fleeing Violence in Central America

immigration-pielage-6.jpg
Andrew Pielage
Peña shows his assignment to Jane Geary, his ESL teacher, in summer school at Central High School.
"No conocí mi niñez," he says. "Si la hubiera conocido creo que no hubiera trabajado." (Translation: "I'd never met my childhood," he says, as if his childhood were a person. "If I'd met her, I don't think I would have worked.")

Darlin was excited the day his parents sent him to work for a woman named Reina, owner of a storage depot for wholesale sales of alcohol. He was 7. He left the house dressed in his best clothes, a school uniform of white shirt and blue pants. They took the dirt road from La Sidra past a few rivers to reach Cucuyagua, in the department of Copán, a political subdivision of the country not unlike a state.

From then on, he was on his own.

"I lived alone like that," he says. "I put my socks and my shoes on. I learned those things I set out to learn."

Reina was a short woman with a quick temper. Her daughter was even worse. She made him work at nights when the trucks arrived packed with beer. It was a treat when the drivers gave him a few lempiras -- Honduran currency -- for helping to unload heavy cases of Tecate, Carta Blanca, and Barena.

Darlin lifted his weight in beer.

He unloaded and loaded cases all night. It was hard to wrap his arms around the boxes. Sometimes, the cases would fall and the bottles inside would explode, drenching him.
But there was no time for a bath. So he got used to the stench.

He saved 2,000 lempiras (less than $100) in two years from the tips. Reina's daughter said she opened an account for him under her name in the local credit union. But he never saw the money, which he wanted to give to his family.

For two years, Reina fed him and gave him a place to stay. She let him go to school from 7 to 9 each night. But she bought clothes and toys only for her grandchildren.

One day, when Darlin was 8, they sent him to buy a pair of shoes.

"Each foot is like 150 lempiras," Reina complained. That was about $7 each. When he returned to the warehouse, Reina's 2-year-old granddaughter ran to greet him on the street, and a car almost hit her.

Reina's daughter called to him: "Come over. Give me your belt," he recalls.

"And she beat me. They didn't explain. I didn't know why they were beating me," he says.
They punished him often but never said why.

"Allá en Honduras hasta a los perros odian," he says. "There in Honduras, they even hate the dogs."

When he was 10, he tried to go back to his mother.

But she had four other children to feed. That's when she told him a stranger had come into the house asking for water and raped his 7-year-old sister while she was in another room.
"That wouldn't have happened if I'd been there," he says now, lowering his head and pausing. "That wouldn't have happened."

His dream became to get paid to help his siblings. So he returned to Reina's and stayed there until he was 12.

She never did pay him. So he left, traveling eight hours from Cucuyagua to the coffee plantations in San Juan Itibuca, where coffee became his life. Driving trucks with coffee, lifting bags with coffee, pulping coffee, and drying coffee in the sun.

He did everything but steal coffee, Peña says. It was a common practice in the area. His boss, Sergio, a man who sold grains to Nescafé, was paranoid.

Sergio didn't pay him much, but he built a church in a nearby town and everybody loved him for that. Peña never had time to visit it. He slept in a warehouse after working from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sometimes, he didn't eat. But he drank a lot of coffee.

Sergio's paranoia about people stealing coffee became unbearable. So Peña escaped and went to the only person he knew there, Rafael, a distant family friend he called "Uncle."

Rafael got him a job at a fertilizer plant and a place to sleep in his house. He vouched for him and promised that he was an honest kid. Still, Peña was a 17-year-old who really never had lived with a family. And he wasn't making much money.

He began to consider going to the United States.

"I watched the news. I heard that you could live better here," he says.

One day, a truck driver who came to pick up fertilizer at the plant told him that he heard they helped young children in the United States. When he asked people how to make this happen for himself, they told him of the dangers: the desert, the Border Patrol, the thugs.
He didn't care. He was ready to leave everything. Because in Honduras, "la vida está color de hormiga."

"Life is the color of an ant," Peña translates. "There is discrimination and death everywhere. For anything simple, you are in trouble. Maras [a term used to refer to gangs that come from Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which originated in Los Angeles and was exported to Central America] are everywhere."

Smugglers were charging $5,000 to take someone to the United States. Peña had saved only 5,000 lempiras, about $240. So he joined two other people in town, and they headed north on June 5, 2013.

"It was a sunny day, and a storm was coming," Peña recalls. "I felt positive and secure."


"Where is the money?" a man asked Peña.

It was the last leg of a 55-day journey. The border fence separating Nogales, Mexico from Nogales, Arizona was within reach. Peña and three other migrants -- two older men from Honduras and a Guatemalan teenager -- had taken a walk to scout a possible location to jump the fence when they'd had the misfortune of bumping into three men who stopped their vehicle in its tracks to get out and chase them.

"Where is the money?" another man asked, putting his hand on his gun.

The man didn't have to say much. It was understood that you couldn't expect to jump the fence in Nogales without paying the cuota to narco-traffickers.

Peña had 2,500 Mexican pesos (about $190) that Rafael had wired to him and which Peña needed to save in case he had to pay a smuggler. He remained silent.

All three men had shaved heads, tattoos, and piercings. One was young, maybe 16. Peña feared that the mafia had trained kids like him to kill.

"How old you are?" one asked.

"I'm 17," Peña answered.

The bandits kicked the Guatemalan teen in the head, and he fell down the side of a hill. They said he was dead, and Peña got even more scared.

They took Peña and the two others through a path at the bottom of a wash, out of sight from anyone. They laid them on the ground and tied their hands and feet with their shoelaces.

They took Peña's belt and hit him with its thick buckle.

He was unable to hold back tears or screams.

"You better have money or we will cut your tongue," the man said.

When he heard that, he gave the man the 2,500 pesos from his pocket. But it wasn't enough. They called him a liar.

"He grabbed me by the hair and kicked my head against the floor," he says.
Peña bled. Everything was a blur after that.

"Is it hard? Is it hard?" someone asked.

One man was hitting him with a rock.

When the beatings stopped, he could hear someone radio "the boss."

"We were waiting for the shot in the head. There was no place to run. We just waited for the shot," Peña says.

Peña couldn't see.

"Maybe it is your lucky day. Without our boss' authorization, we won't do anything. If you look back, we won't ask for permission. We will shoot you," one of the men said.

Peña heard their footsteps in the dirt as the thugs ran away.

One of the Honduran men untied himself and got Peña and the other friend released. The Guatemalan teenager they had kicked in the head and rolled down the hill managed to escape unharmed. They went to the police, who "laughed," Peña said.

He was scared to run into the three men again, but he had come so far and wasn't about to give up. He had seen things during his journey through Mexico that he would never forget.

The worst came in Arriaga, where he ran out of money. There, he could catch the Beast, the infamous train that takes Central Americans through the heart of Mexico, part of which is controlled by paramilitary groups known as Zetas and other parts by opportunistic and violent criminals preying on migrants. He survived on the pity of a Guatemalan mother who had food and also was riding the train in the hope of reaching the U.S. to get a job to support her family. She had given all her money to smugglers, who had abandoned her. Together, they spent more than 50 days hopping trains.

He would spend most days awake holding on to the tiny holes on the metallic side of the trains, with one leg hanging over the side. He would get lethargic. Sometimes, it rained and they covered themselves with plastic bags; sometimes, the metal of the train would burn from underneath.



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165 comments
mrkjessup
mrkjessup

be careful ted cruz's father want to rape those illegal children.he's probably there now raping

fankromank555
fankromank555

Those guys seem pretty cool to me dude.

www.AnonToolz.tk

Bret DaCosta
Bret DaCosta

Hey Gabe Gonzalez blow me.. oh never mind you probably like that kind of thing.

Gabe Gonzalez
Gabe Gonzalez

Send you away and take away your supposed latina heritage you filthy scum.

Gabe Gonzalez
Gabe Gonzalez

Better yet, trade your sorry excuse for a human to HONDURAS for the children. Learn to read and listen in english douchebag. the majority of these kids are from Central america, not mexico you friggin moron.

Gabe Gonzalez
Gabe Gonzalez

Enough of them? So, at 8 he should have had a backbone and fight for his rights? I can probably pull up many stories, videos, photos of headless people. People hung over freeway overpasses or shot up adults and children who tried doing what you suggested. Go to church and pray to god that he gives you a soul back...

Gabe Gonzalez
Gabe Gonzalez

This is why kids like this come across our borders, because of the promise of taking care of those in need. Something they do not have in their own country. How can anyone call themselves human if they do not have love and or compassion for what this young man has gone through in his young short life. I have more respect for this young man than for people who speak about taking care of our own and there not being enough room here for more. DID JESUS say the same thing when faced with more people than anticipated for his sermon and they did not have enough to eat or drink for those in attendance? No, he made more.. The moral of that story is that there will always be enough for everyone who comes. Shame on you Judy.

az53
az53

Send them back and quit wasting my tax dollars!!! EVERYONE should STOP PAYING TAXES and see if that wakes up the Goverment!!?? Our economy is already strained, abused with lies and fakes and fraudsters........can it really afford to take on more?? Hard working Americans will just have to pick up the tabs I guess (Again!!)

chingonblanco
chingonblanco

Si Se Deportamos!  When ILLEGALS call 911 to report they are lost and need rescuing by US LEOs, we clearly have an OUT OF CONTROL BORDER situation due the constant appeasement of open-borderistas and limp wristed Prog-tards.


We are NOT a NATION OF IMMIGRANTS!!!  Most of us were born here to legal citizens.  If you don't like it Lupe, eat a big bowl of verga!

Lauri Owen
Lauri Owen

Did you have kids, Michelle? If you did, you need to STFU.

Lauri Owen
Lauri Owen

yeah, f--k those kids! we should just let those kids be drafted into militaries, and raped, and die. [Judy, you SUCK as a human being, and you're sure no Christian.]

Lakeisha  Williams
Lakeisha Williams

From what I can see..many of the children simply climb atop of grain coaches of any given railway train. Sort of hobo style. Hop from train to train on thru central America until they reach the states. Their trip is free. However sending them back costs us money. How many times can we pay to send these kids back?

Mikey Lee
Mikey Lee

We are not a refugee camp for the world. We already have enough of our own people who don't get any help at all and enough people from other parts of the world that have raped our system dry of resources. These people have been leg to untreated for various diseases, there are gang members in the mix and everyone needs to to be sent back. Mark my words, there is going to be an increased epidemic of both disease and violence.

Mikey Lee
Mikey Lee

They need to go back. It's already been reported and confirmed that Border patrol have not been able to properly treat everyone who has flooded in here. It's also confirmed that they are bring diseases and that there are known gang members in the mix. We have our own people, children and issues to take care of. The US is not a refugee camp.

Tony Bayne
Tony Bayne

Sorry but all you people are ignorant. .. where did they get the money to make the 400+ mile journey to the usa... they flood spots of the border with kids and women then sneak there fucking terrorist dads and drug dealing cartels across when border patrol is busy... wake up.. 3.3 billion USA dollars are being waisted on these illegals. .... hunt illegal immigrants crossing the border... these are not refugees... these are planned drop offs by cartels to help destroy our country. ... they dont speak English. . They drive down our economy our minimum wage and our education system.... ya.. really fair to swamp our already low paid teachers with in educated non English speaking migrants... while we are at it lets go rescue all the Zimbabwe kids and Iraqi kids and moms and bring them here too?.... not..... Simply put a News interview crew asked a immigrant mother how her childhood was? She went on to tell them how horrible her whole life has been growing up in South America. Then they asked her why would you bring three children into this world to live the same horrible life that you just described. No comment after that. Stop wearing your heart on your sleeve and realize what's best for this country is best for you. and spending billions of dollars of hard earned American money on illegals is not the way to do it

rh19541954
rh19541954

I always love the goats who say "bleeding hearts", their destination is so not going to be nice! Jesus if he were here today would be called a bleeding heart, in his day the ruling class the Pharisees saw him as a heretic, false prophet, hated him with a vengeance, and ultimately plotted with Pagan Romans and had him murdered on a wooden cross, his great transgression was preaching to the thieves, harlots, murderers, healing the sick especially the lepers who during that day were deemed sinners and their illness proof of their sin and punishment by god, yes he was also preaching forgiveness, feeding the poor etc., things the self righteous of that day detested since it did not sit well with their authority, ability to decide who ought to be given kindness, compassion etc., today we have the mirror image of the biblical Pharisees they call themselves true conservatives, compassionate Christians aka lip service Christians, tea party patriots, generally anyone extreme right wing republican even a few conservative democrats fit the title! If Jesus were here today, ministering to these folks, these self proclaimed righteous would demand his arrest, incarceration and likely deportation as a illegal alien at minimum, but all would call him a bleeding heart liberal! I laugh at the term of bleeding heart liberal, eternity is a long time to pay for ones self righteousness, belief that ignoring the poor is optional, guess that is why once Jesus tells them he knows them not, God will not even look upon them! That lake of fire will be crowded with many who think they are not going there but then that's why they will be in awe and shock since they are blind!

Patricia Estrada
Patricia Estrada

What the hell happened to all the Good people in this world?!?!?

Patricia Estrada
Patricia Estrada

This country is already f***** up with politics! so what's the problem they are children and didn't ask to be born. I don't understand how people can be so damn selfish and talk like if these children are animals or as if they have no souls. I'm sorry but walk a few miles in their shoes

sarahjnock
sarahjnock

I'll take one of these kids! Send one to me. My house isn't overpopulated.



Mary Doe
Mary Doe

"I am in! Close the gates!'

GTFO
GTFO

NOT OUR PROBLEM.
ALL OF YOU BLEEDING HEARTS MUST HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT ALL OF THE HOMELESS OR POVERTY STRICKEN US CITIZEN CHILDREN THAT OBAMA AND THE REST OF YOU FAKE FUCKS ARE NOT HELPING.

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

Let us go all-Rand here. All justified selfishness. Investing in 'other people's children' is not a bad investment. Better than investing in other people's grandparents. And all of us, taxpayers, do the later.

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

And making the society's attitude towards children in general more harsh protects my child how?

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

I know what misunderstanding science is. But I do like you thinking, 'I believe the Earth is overpopulated. So you, other people, stop breeding ASAP. My parents and I are excluded.' Meanwhile the kids we are talking about are already born. They are already here.

Gerry Valenzuela
Gerry Valenzuela

The brave Mary Doe, with her fake profile and her bold opinions makes me sick.

Dustin Foose
Dustin Foose

I mean, it's only what? 60,000 teens? So 60,000 "concerned and appalled" citizens could easily save them all this trouble by taking in one of these kids.

Dustin Foose
Dustin Foose

Anybody in here actually DOING something to help or do you just piss and moan on facebook? Because that does jack shit to help anyone. Anybody offering to take in a kid or two? Pay for their meals and medical care? No? Then kindly shut the hell up about it.

April Angevine
April Angevine

For all you bleeding hearts out there, what the hell do think is going to happen if we keep them here? How many more are going to come and what kind of drain is it going to put on our economy? Do you enjoy paying for other people's children? And that's just the start, what are you going to do when school starts and your kids are coming home with bugs and diseases? Do you think we should all the "poor little" sick and poor kids from around the world here too??? Wake up!! Bet you all voted for Obama too!!! I say send them All back!!!

Dave Mcclure
Dave Mcclure

So there fleeing violence in South America and you expect them to stop in very violent ravaged by drug gangs Mexico you guys are idiots

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

The blacks in our society are really getting pissed off even jesse jerkson is voicing his disgust

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

Its also been reported the agents aren't going home in fear of spreading those diseases to their families

dogbiter
dogbiter

Put your shirt back on, you ignorant dumbass! You are so full of shit that somebody should slap some sense into you. You have no facts to back up what you say. Did you hear this crap on Fox News, the network you low-IQ racists watch with a passion. Fucktard, they're liars! Don't worry, none of these kids will be moving in next door to you in your AJ trailer park.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@rh19541954


Damn, when was the last time you actually lived in the real world?  Your comic book fantasy is hilarious, but not very meaningful.  


bleeding heart, bleeding heart, bleeding heart!  

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

That's the very question these refugees and other illegal immigrants first asked themselves when they realized their democratically elected officials didn't give a rat's ass about their needs let alone their very existence. 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Golly patty, instead of telling others what to do, open up your own home.  Open up your own wallet.  

When did you ever contribute to a good cause?  How about American Cancer Society?  How about the Kidney Foundation? How about Wounded Warriors?  Or even Salvation Army?


The answer is never.  You bleeding heart ninnies only preach, but your loony advice is never for yourself.  


Liberals are hypocrites!

Gentle_Fern
Gentle_Fern

These precious tykes will make great stocking-stuffers next Christmas. 

benjamingeeks
benjamingeeks

School districts will not let children in without documented immunization cards. I am a teacher, and you are off base.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

You can't call people idiots until you learn the difference between "they're" and "there".  It's a rule.


john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@dogbiter Nice sidestep to answering his question a typical liberal reply ,throw out insults .

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