Seeking Refuge to Stay in the U.S.

Young people traveling across the border alone are making it to Maryland—and fighting to stay

You couldn’t tell just from meeting Ana Herrera—upbeat and nonchalant—that she’s experienced more trauma in her 20 years than most Americans experience in a lifetime. Speaking at her aunt’s home in Frederick, she moves swiftly into a narrative that she has developed over her year-and-a-half in the U.S.

“I suffered much before I came to the United States [from El Salvador],” she reads from a speech she wrote that someone helped her translate into English. “Both of my parents abandoned me when I was four months old. My grandmother took me in, but she didn’t have a job and she was not able to give me enough food or other things. We lived in a small house with a lot of other people. I was always hungry because we could only afford one or two meals each day. The neighborhood was very dangerous. One day, I saw my cousin get murdered, and the people who did it knew that I saw it. My life was in danger, so I fled the country a few days later.”

Her cousin’s murder was the catalyst for a treacherous journey. Over the next four weeks, Ana would travel over 2,000 miles by bus and on foot to cross the border in Texas. She was captured by the border patrol shortly after crossing into the country and swept up by the Immigration Service, which sent her to the Coastal Bend Detention Center in Robstown, Texas.

Read the rest of the story online at Baltimore City Paper

This is a part of a multi-story and multimedia issue that can be found at www.citypaper.com/seekingrefuge