Crossing the border: a family’s struggle

ROMA, TX - APRIL 14:  Central American immigrant families walk through the countryside after crossing from Mexico into the United States to seek asylum on April 14, 2016 in Roma, Texas. Border security and immigration, both legal and otherwise, continue to be contentious national issues in the 2016 Presidential campaign.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

By: Doroteo Rodriguez

Daniel Hernández and his wife crossed the border from Mexico to the United States through the “Nido de las Águilas” hill, walking with a “coyote”, a person who is dedicated to crossing people. They walked for two days and three nights with the fear that thieves would steal their money and sexually abuse his wife. Fortunately, they managed to cross and reach El Cajón, California, where they took a taxi to Oceanside, California. Upon arriving there, they slept with him again in the mountains for more than a week. After days of waiting, they finally found someone to take them to the city of Oxnard.

When they arrived in Oxnard, the weather was not very good; there was a lot of rain, and they faced the new challenge of finding work, which was very difficult since the rain did not allow for much agricultural work to go on. Daniel and his wife had one more concern. That concern was her one-and-a-half-year-old baby. When Daniel and his wife immigrated to the United States, they had to leave their baby in Mexico in the care of the baby’s grandparents. After a year of waiting, the couple was finally reunited with their daughter.

 On May 9, 2010, Daniel received the sad news that his mother was seriously ill and decided to leave the United States to take care of his mother in Mexico. It was a very difficult decision because he had to leave his wife and children alone with the burden of meeting rent, car payments, and insurance expenses.

Daniel spent four months with his mother and two months trying to cross the border again through Tijuana, but he did not succeed. He tried a second time in Nogales, where he got the scare of his life. Daniel slipped when he was descending after having climbed the high border wall, where, luckily, he did not lose his life due to a rock that was covered with soft dirt.

The coyote explained that when he managed to get down from the wall on the United States side, he should run to where the houses were and hide under the cars or in any other place he found and then call a phone number that had been given to him to be picked up. Unfortunately, that did not happen; when Daniel managed to get down from the wall, an immigration officer was already waiting for him and arrested him.

After returning to Mexico, Daniel attempted to cross into the United States again. Daniel was very afraid of traveling along the Mexican border since he had heard that there were many criminal drug trafficking gangs like “Los Zetas.” Daniel was afraid of being kidnapped and that his family would be extorted for his ransom.

Daniel attempted to cross the border through Agua Prieta, Sonora, where he and his group of 7 other migrants were extorted by a criminal gang in Mexico. Daniel and his group had to pay 200 pesos each to be allowed through. Daniel was able to cross the border but was arrested once again by immigration officers on horseback. This time, Daniel was imprisoned because he had already tried to cross the border several times. Daniel was taken to a jail in Eloy, Arizona.

When Daniel was imprisoned, he had the opportunity to have a lawyer who offered him the possibility of being released in the United States as long as he paid $6,000 bail. The lawyer took approximately 15 days to post the bail. That time seemed eternal to Daniel, and he came to think that his lawyer had scammed him and that he would not be able to get out of jail. Finally, after 15 long days and such a long nightmare in jail, Daniel was released and reunited with his family in California. There is no doubt that the entire journey to reach that point in his life and reunite with his family was quite an odyssey for Daniel.

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