EAGLE PASS, Texas — For many migrant families arriving at the US-Mexico border after arduous journeys, going back home is not an option. Fleeing violence, corruption and lack of opportunity, they endure harrowing experiences but remain determined to build better lives in America.
Recent surges in border crossings have overwhelmed US immigration authorities. In December 2023, a seven-day average of over 9,600 migrant encounters was reported along the southern border, one of the highest on record. Shelters in border towns like Eagle Pass are filled beyond capacity, leaving new arrivals to wait outside. Yet their difficult journeys have only strengthened their resolve.
Silvia del Carmen Flores, 38, sat on the sidewalk outside a crowded shelter with her two children, 3-year-old Nikson and 16-year-old Yolani. They had just been released on parole after requesting asylum, hoping to find transport to San Antonio. Their journey from Honduras began on December 12, traveling through Guatemala and Mexico before catching a flight to Piedras Negras and crossing the Rio Grande into Eagle Pass.
Leaving was not easy, but life in Honduras had become untenable. Their financial struggles were compounded when Yolani was kidnapped two months ago. “After paying to get her back, I felt I had no other choice but to leave,” said Flores. An uncertain future in the US is still better than the corruption and crime back home.
Similarly, 33-year-old Marcelly Giraldo left her native Colombia to seek opportunity in America. A domestic worker from Medellín, she aims to bring her young daughter, currently living with Giraldo’s sister, once gaining asylum. She described walking four days through the Darien Gap jungle where she saw dead bodies. In Guatemala, thieves forced her to strip naked on a bus to search for money.
“When I heard they were giving immigrants the benefit of entering the country, I decided to take the risk,” said Giraldo. “Otherwise I never would have.” Many migrants seem misinformed on asylum laws, believing temporary provisions make legal status easier now. Proving credible fear of persecution through documents is key in asylum cases. Still, any chance for a better life outweighs the risks for most.
Cuban nurse Milaidis Duarte Felipe, 30, fled political persecution along with her sister and niece on October 27. Speaking out against Cuba’s regime left her unemployable. She had to leave her 7-year-old son behind, a painful sacrifice. After flying to the Dominican Republic, they slowly made their way by land across Central America into Mexico.
“We were kidnapped in Mexico,” recounted Duarte Felipe. “Our family paid the ransom. Later our phones were stolen on a bus.” Yet she feels blessed to arrive in the US on Christmas Eve, reunited with relatives in Houston. “I’m going to live in a free country where citizens’ rights are respected, unlike where I used to live,” she said. Once granted asylum, she plans to bring her son to join her.
US authorities have warned that smugglers are putting migrants in harm’s way, whether abandoning them in remote areas or sending them across the Rio Grande. Providing aid while processing asylum claims has strained resources. Yet for many of the weary travelers gathered outside the Eagle Pass shelter, going back simply isn’t an option.
Determination and Hope at the US Border
Recent months have seen a dramatic rise in migrants arriving at the US southern border, their resolve unshaken by harrowing journeys. For many, an uncertain welcome in America is still preferable to violence and instability back home.
In December 2023, a seven-day average of over 9,600 migrant encounters was reported at the border, among the highest on record. Resources in border towns are stretched thin. The Eagle Pass shelter was filled to capacity, with dozens more arriving daily after being released by immigration authorities. Still, returning home is unthinkable for most.
Honduran mother Silvia del Carmen Flores fled with her daughter Yolani, 16, and young son Nikson after Yolani was kidnapped. Flores paid ransom to get her back, but felt they had to leave. “After that, I had no other option than to leave,” she said. They aim to reach relatives in San Antonio, eager for a fresh start.
Similarly, domestic worker Marcelly Giraldo left Colombia seeking opportunity in America. In Medellín, she struggled to provide for her young daughter. After a harrowing journey, she hopes to bring her child once gaining asylum. “When I heard they were giving immigrants benefit of entering, I decided to take the risk,” said Giraldo. Like many, she seems misinformed on current asylum laws.
Cuban nurse Milaidis Duarte Felipe endured political persecution for criticizing Cuba’s regime. Unable to find work, she fled with her sister and niece, painfully leaving her 7-year-old son behind. In Mexico, they were kidnapped and ransomed before reaching the US border on Christmas Eve.
Despite harsh journeys, most remain fixed on their goal of safety and stability in America. “I’m going to live in a free country where citizens’ rights are respected,” said Duarte Felipe. For these migrants, turning back is simply not an option.
Persevering Through Adversity: Tales of Resolve at the US Border
Recent months have seen migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border in swelling numbers, their determination to build better lives undeterred by harrowing journeys. Fleeing violence, instability and lack of opportunity, they endure exploitation and hardship but remain fixed on the chance for a fresh start in America.
In December 2023, a seven-day average of over 9,600 migrant encounters was reported at the border, among the highest on record. Shelters in towns like Eagle Pass, Texas are overwhelmed, with new arrivals encamped outside. Still, going back is inconceivable for most.
Thirty-eight-year-old Silvia del Carmen Flores fled Honduras with two children after her daughter Yolani, 16, was kidnapped. Paying ransom to retrieve her, Flores felt they must leave their unstable homeland. “I had no other option,” she said. They hope to reach relatives in San Antonio.
Similarly, Marcelly Giraldo left Colombia and her young daughter behind, aiming to bring her to the US once gaining asylum. The domestic worker endured being stripped naked by thieves in Guatemala. “I decided to take the risk when I heard they were giving immigrants benefit of entering,” said Giraldo, echoing many migrants’ inaccurate beliefs on asylum laws.
Milaidis Duarte Felipe, a 30-year-old Cuban nurse, fled political persecution after criticizing Cuba’s regime left her unable to work. She painfully left her 7-year-old son, joining her sister and niece to journey through Central America and Mexico, where they were kidnapped and ransomed.
Despite such adversity, most remain undeterred in their quest for new lives in America. “I’m going to live in a free country where citizens’ rights are respected,” said Duarte Felipe, granted parole on Christmas Eve. For these migrants, there is simply no turning back. Their resolve outweighs all obstacles.