News and Events

"Mom & Dad, I’m OK "

August, 2021. Jessica, the ABQ FaithWorks Director for our Asylum Program, got a call from a partner in immigration law, Las Americas, that an 18-year-old boy would be released from the Torrance County detention center today. ICE would drop him off at the Albuquerque Greyhound station in an hour with a sheet of information about homeless shelters and soup kitchens in town – could we help get him to Indianapolis where his uncle lived? Alone at the bus station, he looked like a lost child. Our volunteer took him to dinner and heard that his parents encouraged him to leave home after the boy received death threats for having participated in a political protest in his native Central American country. Lucky to have crossed after he turned 18 (therefore not to be an unaccompanied minor which takes much longer to be reunited with family) and not be immediately returned to the streets of Juarez, he was placed in detention in El Paso. In the four months of his incarceration, he was moved to Otero and then Torrance detention centers, where he was kept in a cell alone 24/7, not allowed outside, not allowed to see the sky, or to see or talk to other immigrants. He had time to reflect on his life, he told the volunteer. If he ever got out, he would learn English, wanted to study and make something of his life. After dinner, they went to one of FaithWorks’ member churches that can provide short-term housing. He asked if he could go outside at will and see the sky. And he asked the volunteer to take and send a picture of him to his parents telling them that he was OK. After some sleep, a shower and a good breakfast, another volunteer at the airport took him through TSA to the gate of his flight to Indianapolis. His ticket was paid for by donations. Since ICE took his country-issued ID, all he had was the ICE-issued paper with his Alien number and sponsor information. Upon arrival in Indianapolis, his uncle sent Jessica a photo at the airport of uncle and nephew together. Thanks to the network of non-profits and NGOs working together, and the time and skills of all the individuals in those agencies, another boy has a chance at the American Dream, and his parents will sleep easier tonight.