Colombian Family Seeks Asylum in US, Flees Extortion, Violence

1 month ago 22

Just earlier dawn, erratic upwind gusts whirl soil and particulate into the crisp October aerial successful Coachella Valley arsenic a brace of tinted-window circuit buses propulsion into a cul-de-sac astatine the United States Border Patrol presumption successful Indio, Calif.

The buses parkland strategically obscuring the entranceway to a compound whose pale-yellow walls are crowned with barbed-wire rails. Moments aboriginal a assemblage of migrants gathers successful the constrictive abstraction betwixt the gross of the compound and the buses wherever an authoritative holding a clipboard waits astatine a portable table.

As the prima begins to gully the mountains retired of the distant darkness, the unsettling winds subside. Cristian, his wife, Estella, and their two-year-old daughter, Cristina, committee 1 of the buses.

It’s the champion time truthful acold successful their perilous 10-day travel from war-torn Colombia.

Their autobus soon arrives astatine a edifice wherever Gloria Gomez, cofounder of the Galilee Center, welcomes astir 50 caller guests. They are “asylum seekers,” she says.

Epoch Times Photo Immigrants are moved onto cater buses and transferred to a migrant structure successful Indio, Calif., connected Oct. 18, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A wastepaper handbasket extracurricular the doorway of a edifice bureau collects dozens of purple-edged wristbands. They don’t look the aforesaid arsenic the water-resistant, multi-colored wristbands that cartels usage to way migrants. These are the ones issued by the Border Patrol astatine detention centers, sources say.

Cristian didn’t wage the “coyotes” for harmless passage, and the mates traveled alone. He had seen capable of the extortion successful Buenaventura, agelong considered the astir unsafe metropolis Colombia.

Buenaventura is simply a cardinal Pacific larboard metropolis with a ample Afro-Colombian colonisation on the main cocaine-smuggling route. After much than 50 years of civilian warfare and warring betwixt rebel forces, paramilitary groups, and narco-traffickers, the metropolis inactive bears conflict scars and is known for horrific unit and grisly murders.

“There was a batch of extortion. It happened to us, and we were trying to enactment treble shifts and worldly and it was not capable to wage disconnected that extortion,” Cristian told The Epoch Times successful Spanish via a translator. “There are 2 cartels that are trying to instrumentality implicit the city. They were threatening us. They were texting america and we couldn’t person a harmless and peaceful life.”

“They combat implicit the territory due to the fact that determination are batch of similar oversea shipments coming in. So, they’re warring implicit that,” Estella said. “They onslaught everybody close now. The concern is precise cruel.”

“In Colombia, erstwhile a cartel per se that’s successful complaint of that region, doesn’t privation you oregon doesn’t similar you oregon conscionable simply has thing against you, they footwear you retired of that metropolis and you person to spell determination else, and that happened to us,” said Cristian.

It’s unsafe to determination from 1 metropolis to different because, though determination are nary checkpoints, the cartels way the question of radical they’ve targeted for extortion, and they volition “automatically termination you,” Cristian said. “We can’t spell from metropolis to city.”

“If you deterioration black, they’ll termination you. We can’t deterioration thing black.” Cristian said.

The cartels prey connected concern owners, particularly those who are hardly getting up connected their feet, and the constabulary look the different way, Estella said.

Epoch Times Photo Jaime Vega displays his weapon shots woumnds helium recieved portion successful the crossfire of cause cartels successful Tijuana, Mex., connected April 22, 2021. He and his household yet relocated to the United States nether humanitarian grounds. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“The authorities bash not bash thing erstwhile we accidental thing oregon erstwhile we study something,” she said.

The mates fled Colombia due to the fact that of the unit and the country’s instability. They were forced to wantonness their jobs and their location to the cartels.

Although they’d thought astir leaving and had discussed ways to get retired of Colombia, their formation inactive seemed sudden.

“We had to,” Cristian said. “It conscionable happened precise rapidly. They started threatening america and we couldn’t instrumentality it nary more. We got our kid and we left. They’ll instrumentality implicit the house. We’re not the lone ones who are going done this.”

“In Colombia, I had a bully prime life. It’s simply conscionable due to the fact that of the unit and consciousness of insecurity that’s going connected successful the state that we had to flee,” helium said.

Estella said the household fled to America to unafraid a amended aboriginal for themselves and their daughter.

“We needed to travel implicit present owed to the threats and extortion, and for my daughter,” she said. “I cognize that if we enactment hard, she volition person a amended beingness here. She volition person a amended acquisition than she would successful Colombia. We consciousness that it’s a harmless state here.”

The mates travelled from Colombia to Cancun, past to Mexico City, Tijuana, and Mexicali.

Though Cristian utilized the GPS to usher them, they got confused adjacent Mexicali and had to halt to inquire locals for directions.

“We were lost,” Cristian said. “In Mexico we didn’t person nobody. It was precise dangerous.”

They were robbed of each their belongings, including the nonrecreational camera Cristian had utilized to gain part-time income arsenic a lensman and astir of their cash.

“The lone happening that was near was a $100 measure that I had successful my bra,” Estella said.

Once they got their bearings, they acceptable retired connected ft for the border. Holding Cristina successful their arms, they walked for much than an hour.

“We were trying to fig retired however we were going to transverse the border,” Estella said. “We lone brought what was indispensable for our daughter.”

“The locomotion was precise exhausting, due to the fact that of the prima and the danger,” Cristian said.

Not agelong aft they illegally crossed the borderline adjacent Mexicali, the mates were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol and taken to a presumption successful Yuma, Ariz.

“Immigration caught us, and they treated america truly good,” Estella said.

From Yuma, they were bused with different migrants to the Border Patrol presumption successful Indio wherever they stayed successful the installation until they were released the adjacent day.

Epoch Times Photo Indio, Calif., connected Oct. 18, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Though helium is relieved and “more than happy” to person yet reached U.S. soil, Cristian worries astir the information his household inactive faces successful Colombia and that his parents could beryllium harmed oregon killed.

“My brothers and sisters and ma are successful Colombia and are disquieted what our travel has been like,” Cristian said.

“They are inactive astatine war. Our parents stay successful their house,” she said. “They don’t spell retired due to the fact that determination are a batch of shootings,” Estella said.

Estella has a grade successful concern administration, and Cristian was successful his eighth semester successful the aforesaid people of study. They some had jobs and businesses.

“We’re leaving a afloat beingness down us,” Cristian said.

“We are happy, but we consciousness precise bittersweet to person near our full beingness down us—my job, our friends, our family,” Estella said, arsenic her eyes welled. “I had my occupation and positive we had a business.”

Though Estella said it “would beryllium fantastic” to find enactment successful concern management, she and Cristian some cognize that until they larn English, it volition beryllium a situation to find enactment and rebuild their lives successful America.

“Right now, we’ll person to enactment astatine whatever. We are a team,” Cristian said.

Estella is originative and could decorate for events, and erstwhile helium buys a caller camera, helium could bash photography, helium said.

“If it’s not that business, past we volition bash different concern specified arsenic selling nutrient probably, positive successful Colombia we had besides different concern wherever we would merchantability greenish juices. They’re precise good,” Estella said.

Once astatine the hotel, the Galilee Center tested them for COVID-19, and they were released the adjacent time to drawback a formation to Miami wherever they are staying with a puerility person until they find jobs and gain capable wealth to rent an apartment.

They were scheduled to look astatine an migration proceeding past week.

Brad Jones


Brad Jones is an award-winning writer based successful Southern California.

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