NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For thousands of children the long, dangerous trip to the United States will be for nothing. White House officials say most will not qualify to stay and will be sent back to their home countries.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, mostly Central American families and unaccompanied minors are arriving in the U.S. via Texas’s Rio Grande Valley at a rate of more than 35,000 per month.
Some unaccompanied minors have already arrived in North Texas and have been released to relatives or family friends until their cases are settled in an immigration court.
This is the story of one teenage girl, who because of what she’s experienced asked that her ace not be shown on television.
Maribel survived the trip from Honduras to the United States when others along the way did not. “Children die from hunger, thirst, and violence,” she said.
The 17-year-old told us that she was sexually assaulted, but kept going with her one-year-old son at her side. The teenager said she left Honduras hoping for a better life for her child. “It was for his [son] sake,” she said.
According to Maribel, the boy’s father got into trouble with people in Honduras, who warned that the baby would pay the price.
One smuggler promised to get the pair safely to the States, but left them in Mexico. The mother and child found another group of immigrants and waded across the waist deep Rio Grande with their help. Hours after finally crossing into the United States, Maribel surrendered to officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
During three months in federal custody, she watched other children pour in. “Two-year-olds, one-year-olds… some children just months old,” she said.
Those traveling with cousins, siblings, or aunts were separated from family.
Enduring dangerous traveling conditions and ultimately being locked up isn’t a picture perfect ending. But Maribel explained, “We don’t come because we want to, but because our own countries are full of corruption.”
Last week, the U.S. government finally agreed to release the teenager and her son to family friend Aracely Espinal, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Honduras.
“If she goes back to Honduras she could be killed,” Espinal said, adding that she couldn’t ignore two children in need. Espinal works as a pastor and lives in Irving.
Maribel now hopes she’ll be allowed to stay in the U.S., to give her son an opportunity to thrive. It’s something she says he may not have back home.
For Maribel the trip to the U.S., traveled mostly by bus, took just over two weeks. She said she endured hunger, lack of sleep, and violence – all events that still weigh heavily on her. She now has a immigration court date to determine her fate.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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