The story of Jose Luis Zelaya begins in San Pedro, Honduras. He describes his home adjacent to a filthy creek abundant of dead animals and dead people in bags in which children would play or neighbors wash their clothes in. An abundance of shootings, killings, and violence was normal for his hometown.
One of the most significant past of Jose’s life was the death of his younger brother due to the lack of financial means to take him to the hospital. Death was normalized within this community as opportunities seem to be lacking.
Through the ongoing battle of escaping an abusive father, Jose’s mother and sister managed to migrate to the United States first. Jose was left behind due to the fact that their father would always have one of the children in possession.
Within the two years separated from his mother and sister Jose was violently shot by drive-by shooting while he was playing soccer. Jose references this as his breaking point to finally decide to embark a reunion with his mother and sister. Jose’s grandmother managed to kidnap Jose from his father to a coyote who would guide Jose’s journey to the border.
Jose recalls the horrific reality that many migrants faced in Mexico:
And there are people in Mexico who, if they find out that you’re migrating from Central America, will beat you, rape you, rob you, kidnap you, turn you into gangs, prostitute you. I witnessed that. I witnessed how on the journey a lot of older men just took advantage of children who were coming to this country. I came alone. I was nobody’s child, I was just a kid, alone. So they could do whatever they want to me. But I was careful, I was smart. I just wanted to be with my mom and sister.
Through the many hours of trekking, people squeezing and silencing. Jose managed to luckily survive the abuse of the different coyotes in which he made it to the border. He recalls the script in which he is supposed to retell as he is partnered with a new “sister” who he had just met. Their pursuit across the night river eventually was met with an immigration officer where he was detained in the Rio Grande Valley center.
As of today, Jose Luis Zelaya has been reunited with his mother and sister and has graduated with his master’s in 2014. Jose’s narrative is one of many who migrate to the United States to pursue a better life.
Planas, Roque. “This Is What It’s Like To Cross The Border Illegally At 13 Years Old.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/unaccompanied-minors-central-america_n_5503908.