The Other Side of the Immigration Story

The following is from Don Montagna, President, International Partners:

Here is the kind of painful plight that tortures me. We have known Mari-Elena for more than a decade. She is always a cook for our delegations, an active community volunteer, and an elected member of her town council (ADESCO). Since her husband, Daniel, the driver for our delegation, has had a renal illness, he has been out of work, and the family of 6 is financially desperate.

As their only hope, the family decided that their 20 year old son, Edwin, should go to the USA so he can send money home, as is done by about half the families in this small community of Hacienda Vieja. Fourteen have gone to the USA just since this January.

To hire a “coyote,” who guides groups to and through the US border, most families borrow from relatives already in the US and then pay them back once they get a job in the USA. But Mari-Elena has no family in the USA so they used their house as collateral for a bank loan of $2500, which charges 3% per month interest plus penalties for each day the payment is late.

Trying to cross the border, Edwin was caught by US immigration and is now in jail in Houston. If Mari-Elena and Daniel could raise another $7500, Edwin would be free to enter the USA with a hearing for asylum scheduled for about 5 years later. Since they cannot raise the $7500, he will be returned to El Salvador, their family financial woes will continue, but since they cannot pay the loan without Edwin working in the USA, they will now lose their house to the bank. They gambled and lost everything.

So goes the world for the desperately poor

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