- An asylum-seeker from Honduras says he’s surprised about the warm welcome he and his young son have received in the United States.
- Despite the Trump administration’s tough border policies, José and his son were able to cross the US-Mexico border last week without being separated – and have been treated kindly by Americans ever since.
- José told Business Insider he knows he has a tough journey ahead of him to claim asylum, but he’s grateful for the treatment he’s received in the US so far.
MCALLEN, TEXAS – At the Catholic Charities respite center 5 miles from the Mexican border, “Finding Dory” played on the TV while migrant kids played with toys.
Days earlier, many of these kids would have been separated from their parents and housed in different detention centres for crossing the border illegally.
But today, fresh from a shower and a hot meal, a Honduran father and son were safe, and allowed to stay together.
José, who asked to be identified only by his first name, told Business Insider that he knew his journey would be tough, and was even warned before he crossed the border that his son could be taken from him when he crossed the US-Mexico border last week.
Speaking through a translator with his son on his lap, José said he was surprised by the warm welcome the Americans have given him so far.
Despite the lengthy and complex asylum case ahead of him, which could take years to unfold, José said the people he has encountered so far have made him and his young son feel safe.
“I am surprised by the treatment I’ve got in the center, and the treatment I’ve gotten in this country,” he said. “My son has been taken care of; I’ve felt welcome.”
The Trump administration’s now-halted “zero tolerance” policy had split more than 2,300 children from their parents and placed them in the custody of the Health and Human Services department’s labyrinth of shelters and foster families across the country.
Meanwhile, the adults were kept in separate detention facilities or deported, often with no idea where there child was being held.
José and his son had heard rumours during their journey that the US government was splitting up families like theirs, but there was no chance of turning back, José said.
The pair were fleeing gang violence and police corruption in Honduras, where José said three of his brothers were killed. Facing “unbearable” violence and fearing he might be next, José and his little boy fled.
His first surprise came when he crossed the border and immigration authorities approached him. They were unexpectedly kind to him and his child, José said, and placed them both in a truck and brought them to an ice-cold holding facility known among migrants as “hieleras,” Spanish for “icebox.”
Though many asylum-seekers have complained about their treatment at the hands of Border Patrol – and accused officers of tricking or coercing them into giving up their children – José said he was fortunate.
“I’m just thankful to be here in America,” he said.
Michelle Mark contributed reporting from New York.
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