On 18 December, we celebrate International Migrants Day, a day dedicated to recognising the contribution, resilience, and challenges faced by millions of migrants globally. It offers us the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of migrants and to advocate for their respect and dignity by giving them a voice. This year, ICMC shares the story of a Honduran mother who migrated to the U.S. to seek treatment for her daughter.
“My daughter was born with spina bifida, along with other serious health problems. In Honduras, the doctors could not offer us the necessary support for her to live a dignified life and improve her condition. We spent more than three months in the hospital, but at a certain point, the doctors advised us to come to the United States to try and take advantage of a migration program offered to parents with children. So, we didn’t think twice. I packed our bags and departed, leaving my eldest son in Honduras. We have been separated from that moment on.
The journey was not easy. The people on that road do not treat you well. We were stopped for five days without food and water, in a secluded place to protect us from the gangs. We arrived at the border and presented ourselves to the immigration people without really knowing what to say or ask. I had half an idea about the asylum application, but my information was sketchy and too inaccurate.
They let us in. I still don’t understand with what status. The only proof that I offered was about my daughter’s condition, and seeing that what I was saying was true, they let us through. And, since the medical team that specialized in spina bifida was in Chicago, we simply came here.
The problem began when I went to the migration office here in Illinois. My uncertain status made me an atypical asylum seeker, and they themselves suggested that I get a good lawyer because, if my case were to proceed like this, I would soon find myself deported back to Honduras with my two daughters.
I don’t know what will happen in the future. I have been here a few months, and everything looks uncertain. I hope to manage to regularize this situation as soon as possible for the sake of my daughter. Here, the hospital is of a very high level, and my daughter’s condition has already much improved. I am afraid to go back to the migration office in case they arrest and deport me. When we arrived, we had no medical insurance, and the doctors did not treat my daughter. A month went by, and she was sick, so we took her to the emergency room. There, they were forced to treat her. The doctors put her into a program of social assistance, which provides free medical insurance for my two daughters.
I am looking for work, even if I do not have a permit. My first employer was in the construction trade, but he refused to provide me with documents. So now, I am working in a restaurant which is helping me finally regularize my situation. People think that we come here to steal or to take something that belongs to someone else, but this is not true.
We come here out of necessity. For love. I came here out of love for my daughter because I want her to be healthy. I want the best for her. Every one of us has reasons of love that drive migration.”
Chicago, January 2019
Pastoral Migratoria beneficiary
This story was first published in Driven by the Depth of Love, a photobook published by ICMC in 2020 to share in their own words the stories of migrants in India, Ivory Coast, the U.S., and Mexico.
To read more, click here.