Winter 2016 Newsletter: Why Miguel Left Honduras and More
When Miguel* left Honduras, he did not know what was going to happen. Would he be able to make it to the United States border? Would he be able to reunite with his father in Philadelphia? Would he be allowed to stay?
But Miguel did know one thing: he had to leave.
When Miguel's HIAS Pennsylvania lawyer asked him to draw pictures of why he had to leave Honduras, this is what he drew:
They kill whoever does not harm them.
They scare minors and rape them. (Miguel's sisters were threatened).
But most of all:
The gangsters wanted Miguel to become one of them, selling drugs.
There was no way to say no. He had to run away.
And thanks to lawyers at HIAS Pennsylvania, Miguel, unlike many of his peers, gets the chance to argue his asylum claim in court. He has reunited with his father and can start a life free from the fear of gangsters and death.
Miguel is the new face of today's refugees. As the world grapples with how to handle those displaced by war and violence, HIAS Pennsylvania is there, as we have been for over 130 years, to provide some respite to those seeking sanctuary.
Spotlight on an Employee: Mary McCabe
When Mary McCabe meets with children from Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala, she is struck by their hope. They have left their homes and ventured alone to the US leaving behind worlds of gang violence, domestic and sexual abuse, extreme poverty in their communities, and abandonment by their families. Still, the children are inspiring: “they are amazing and upbeat and often talk about how they can’t wait to go to school."
Mary McCabe is a bi-lingual Know Your Rights Coordinator as part of HIAS Pennsylvania's Youth Advocacy team. She educates unaccompanied children who were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border like Miguel about their rights. Mary and her team teach the children about their rights and how the American legal system can protect vulnerable children in need of refuge. She then interviews the children to find out whether or not they might qualify to get legal status and tries to connect them to a pro-bono or low-cost lawyer.
Mary is touched by the their stories of pain and suffering--something no child should have to endure--and happy that she can help offer them a way to take back their childhood.