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Serving Refugee Children

Listening to Stories of Detention in the USA

Edited By Montse Feu and Amanda Venta

Serving Refugee Children shows the struggles and traumatic experiences that unaccompanied and undocumented children undergo they seek safety in the United States and instead find imprisonment, separation from their families, and immigration enforcement raids. Current legislation and bureaucracy limit publication of first-person narratives from unaccompanied and undocumented children, but service providers and grassroots activists authoring the pieces in this collection bear witness to the children’s brave human spirits in their search for safety in the United States. Through the power of storytelling, Serving Refugee Children exposes the many hardships unaccompanied and undocumented children endure, including current detention center conditions. No child should have to live the persecution suffered by children featured in these stories, nor should they have to embark upon perilous journeys across Latin America or be subjected to the difficult immigration court process unaided. Researchers and readers who believe that the emotional bonding of storytelling can humanize discussions and lead to immigration policies that foster a culture of engagement and interconnectedness will be interested in this volume.

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Chapter 9. Estrella Godinez

Extract

Godinez conducted interviews with Central American newcomers and their caregivers in a school for immigrant youth in Texas from 2016 to 2018. A refugee advocate, Godinez has noticed how religion is a recurrent theme. Faith gives strength to Latinos. She tells the inspiring story of Danny Mateo, who she witnesses fighting for a better life.

All day Danny Mateo sold individual pieces of candy in Temascalcingo, Mexico and at night he witnessed his mother become the victim of his father’s alcoholism. He dreamt of a perfect family. One dreary night, his sister Rosario didn’t come home, but sent Danny Mateo a note with her boyfriend, Tacho, saying “Danny by the time you read this I will be far gone. I don’t know if I will make it across the border, but I am taking this risk for my baby. I will never tell him I was raped by my own father. But I will tell him that I wanted him to have a life free of violence. And I want the same for you. I left you some money with Tacho and he will give it to you when you are ready to leave Temascalcingo. I saved enough money for the two of us by working late nights. I hope to see you on the other side.”←163 | 164→

One night, Danny Mateo said to his mother, “Mother, I don’t want to leave you alone. Rosario had her own reasons to leave but I could never...

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