Imagine being a mother of two and hearing from your son on a daily basis, ¨Mom let´s get out of here, I can’t handle it anymore.¨
Every day that Valeria and her son Alejandro left their home to sell food, they risked their lives in a neighborhood controlled by one of El Salvador’s most feared gangs. Alejandro, now a bright 18-year old, was determined to attend university. But one day he was given an ultimatum: pledge allegiance to the gang or face certain death.
In a country crippled by gang violence, Valeria was forced to immediately flee El Salvador for Mexico to save her son’s life. “In El Salvador, once your life is threatened, one has no choice but to leave the country. These gangs are massive networks. Those who have gone to the police are often found dead the next day,” she said.
Her extended family didn’t have the means to offer protection or finances, so after a tearful goodbye Valeria and Alejandro set out for the arduous journey by land across Central America and into Mexico. Due to the risks of the journey she had to leave her 12-Year old daughter in El Salvador with her mother.
Their new home posed an entirely new set of challenges. In Mexico, refugees live at high risk of detention and deportation.
While staying at a local migrant shelter, Valeria and Alejandro found Asylum Access’ legal team. Over several days our advisers informed them of their rights, contacted authorities on their behalf and ensured they could navigate the complex procedures that determine refugee status. Through our team’s services, they were able to access the documentation they needed to reside in Mexico safely.
Valeria could finally breathe a sigh of relief. With continued help from Asylum Access she is beginning the process of rebuilding her life and reuniting her family.
¨Once I am working and stable, I am going to request a family reunification visa to bring my daughter here. I really miss her.¨
The Asylum Access team is helping Valeria find a safe and lawful way to send for her daughter. They also matched her to an employment opportunity at a fabric shop in Mexico City where she is contracted to start before the end of the year. The fabric shop has also promised to provide training and potential employment to Alejandro.
About Asylum Access, Valeria said, “I am so content, excited and happy. I feel satisfied. The support I didn’t have from my family I found instead with good people, like you. You all help us migrants.”
In her quest for safety, Valeria has not lost sight of her son’s dreams. She is determined to help Alejandro attend a quality university in the next year. “My son told me, ‘Mom, I want to be somebody in life. I want to move forward here and find a good job and be educated’. So I have to persevere, if only for my son´s dreams, for his dreams to prosper.”