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Sitting in the fire fast for reflection, healing and rebirth

reflection 11

Iris Rivera: Every fight is important

I’m from Honduras, from San Pedro Sula, where I worked as a nurse. I came six months ago with my two sons — the youngest 17, and the other 20 — and with my 4-year-old grandson. My eldest son, who disappeared in Mexico, is 30.

I’m here now with a ankle monitor because I’m in the process of asking for asylum. My sons were threatened by gang members in Honduras, the same ones who threatened them killed my nephew.

Look, I really didn’t imagine myself living here. I’ve always been scared of the United States. I had heard that one exists virtually imprisoned by immigration policies, and that this government doesn’t want us. It does make one a little fearful.

What I wanted, actually, was to flee what was happening to us in Honduras, and my objective was to live in Mexico. My eldest son went there in 2008, and was working in Veracruz. He was living in a hostel there in October, and by November he had disappeared.

In January of 2009 an informational release prompted me to start searching for him. At the prosecutor’s office they had a file on his disappearance, but had no photos of him and few facts. in 2010 they declared him dead, based on some DNA “proof.” But in 2014 it was revealed that the DNA in his file didn’t match his actual DNA. I filed another complaint based on that mismatched DNA, and Father Alejandro Solalinde put me in contact with the Red Cross so that they could start helping me.

Because I was going back and forth to Mexico to do all this, my sons were left alone for stretches of time in Honduras and that’s when the gang would threaten them. They wanted my sons to join.

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They want us to despair and not continue the asylum process

My sons’ father had lived here 15 years. When I crossed the border into the U.S. with my sons, I asked for asylum. They put us in one of the so-called kennels. And they separated us from my youngest son for a day. They sent him to one of the rooms that have come to be known as “freezers.”

They do that so we’ll despair and not continue the asylum process.

I would love if we were granted asylum. After my nephew’s death I don’t want to return to Honduras. The situation there is bad. The violence is never going to go away. The gangs rob and kill those who want to protect their neighborhoods. Members of my family are scared, and there are some who are talking about coming up here.

I had heard about New Sanctuary Movement through a friend, and Maria Turcios [a staff member] was the person who guided me, and accompanied me.

My second interview in the asylum process is in October. NSM helped me secure a lawyer who is working on the legal process.

I'm thinking of fasting for one day [as part of this 40-day campaign] because I’ve never done that. After my son’s disappearance I put some distance between me and the church, but not between me and God. Now I’m starting again to go to Mass at Visitation church.

I’d like to continue living here. I’d like to work at a hospital, or as a small business owner, or just to work at something. The elder of my sons goes to work in construction with his father. My younger son is adapting well. His friends at school help him, because none of us speaks English.

Every fight is important, but personally, for me the most important are the fights for driver’s licenses and to learn English.

I’m determined to learn English.

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NSM Philadelphia
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