Last Sunday about 1:00 p.m., a Border Patrol agent called asking if we could accommodate a woman who was recently released from the hospital. He said she had fallen at the border and shattered her ankle. After an operation, she was fitted with a cast and crutches. Two hours later, Sister Zita met Janis and took her to La Posada. Her story follows:
I began my journey on April 5, 2013. That day, a gang of seven men broke into my house and held my three children and me at gunpoint. They told us that we had to leave or they would kill us. That night, we began our flight from El Salvador.
Everywhere, there are gangs and my country is terribly and randomly violent. We were always moving because we didn’t have enough money for rent, going from one gang territory to another. My children were always asking, “Why can’t we have our own house?” After our experience with this gang, I did not want to move anymore—it is very dangerous to move from one territory to another. I wanted to buy a house for my children where we won’t be afraid, in the United States, if I can.
I fled with my children to Guatemala, where we have friends and family who are also from El Salvador—and who also fled the violence. I left my children there, safe. Led by a coyote, I traveled through Guatemala and Mexico until we arrived in Reynosa. The coyote put me in a stash house with many other people for 25 days, and we were fed only an egg and a tortilla each day. More people came every day, until there were over 100 people in the small house and the coyote had to let some of us go. I was with a group of 20 people that crossed the river to the border wall.
The border wall is very high, and the coyote said we had to stand on his shoulders and form a human chain to cross it. The men crossed first, and then the women began. When I was at the top of the wall, holding onto a young girl of about 12 years, someone yelled, “Border Patrol!” The coyote let us go and I fell very far with the young girl. She was injured, but I could not get to her because my ankle was crushed and I could not move. Border Patrol called an ambulance and we were taken to a hospital in McAllen. I do not know what happened to the young girl because they would not tell me, but I hope she is recovering. I had an operation and the doctors reconstructed my ankle as well as they could with metal pins.
Then Immigration officers took me to a holding cell. The officers argued about whether I should be there with such a serious injury, after a serious operation, and with my cast and crutches. It was very difficult there, and they kept me for five days before mercifully calling Sister Zita to come take me to La Posada. I am extremely grateful to be here now. Everyone is so kind and gracious and I am getting stronger every day. I thank God for the kind officers who argued for my release and for La Posada.
I came to the United States in hopes of being allowed to stay and work here until I can either send for my children to join me or return to Guatemala to buy our house. I miss my children very, very much—but I want to see them again inside our own home, somewhere safe. I do not know the laws here, but I hope they are good to us. I promised my children safety and a home for our family. I hope I can fulfill my promise to them, with God’s help.