God is the Guardian of Undocumented Children
By Andrea Acosta
SILVER SPRING, Md. – While children cross the border alone, their parents in the United States are going through intense anxiety — and the only thing they can do is pray to God to protect their kids along the journey.
Each successful trip is God’s doing, according to many immigrant parents who are waiting on the other side of the Rio Grande, impatient and full of faith.
“What I did was put her in the hands of God and God put angels along her path to bring my girl to me,” Salvadoran immigrant Carmen Molina told El Pregonero recently, referring to the trip her daughter Valeria made nearly three years ago.
Carmen left El Salvador 10 years ago, crossed through Guatemala and Mexico by bus and taxi, and then crossed the Rio Grande to come to the United States. She made the journey with her brother, guided by coyotes, and says that God took care of them along the way.
The worst part of the trip, she says, was the journey on the infamous train known as “La Bestia” (The Beast), but she was saved from any harm inflicted by traffickers. “There are a lot of deaths on the train,” she says. “Some people lose limbs, immigrants are stripped of their clothes and robbed, women are raped….”
After three dangerous weeks making the journey north, Carmen was arrested by immigration authorities. She decided not to appear in court, so she remained undocumented. She had left her family and her country behind, with the goal of working to help her family back home.
“I cried every day for my 6-year-old and 10-year-old daughters, who I left in my mom’s care,” says the parishioner of the San Camilo Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
She tearfully recalled the moment she said goodbye, when her younger daughter told her, “‘Take me with you, Mom… I’m going to go with you and I won’t leave your side.’”
Carmen remembers Valeria’s words and the expression on her little face. “They are painful moments you’ll never forget,” she says. Since she got here, she’s been working as a housecleaner and has always been able to send her money to her mother in El Salvador.
Carmen wanted her older daughter to come to the United States, but she was too scared to make the journey. Her younger daughter, who was 13 years old at the time, kept saying that she wanted to see her mother. She was excited, brave and determined to undertake the adventure of crossing three countries.
Before making the decision, the desperate mother knelt down and prayed: “My God, help me. Bring me my daughters. I miss them so much, and I can’t stand the pain….”
Carmen had already gotten married in the United States and couldn’t abandon her husband and her three daughters who were born here. If she returned to El Salvador, she wouldn’t be able to get back in the country.
So, between a rock and a hard place, she chose to come up with $4,500 to pay a woman who had been recommended to her to guide her daughter across the borders.
Valeria set out on the trek and the woman didn’t leave her alone for a moment.
“I wasn’t that worried because my daughter would call me along the way, and tell me where she was,” says the Salvadoran mother. But she admits that she became extremely anxious when it came time for her daughter to cross the river. “As they crossed the river, I spent the whole time on my knees asking God to help my daughter.”
After Valeria made it across, she had one last challenge: getting past the Border Patrol. So Carmen kept doing the only thing she knew how to do: pray. She knelt down again to pray to God that the agent would only look at the woman’s papers… and that’s what happened. “They just looked at us and said, ‘Go ahead,’ says Valeria.
Carmen recognizes her daughter’s courage and describes all of this as God’s work. “I’m happy that everything was OK and my daughter made it to my home in 22 days.”
The day of the reunion was very emotional, says the mother, who went from feeling anxiety to being at peace. Her daughter ran to her and said: “Mommy, mommy, I got to see you again. I did it. I’m here with you.”
Carmen was surprised to see how thin Valeria was. “She was so skinny that she didn’t even fit into size zero pants. I just felt her bones when she hugged me and I started to cry,” recalls the mother, who says she is now finally happy.
Translated by Elena Shore
New America Media