HIAS Delegation Journal, DAY 5: Just call me “Abogada”

We went to the shelter again today. We met with people the same as the day before. I met with a father and daughter, maybe 6, from Honduras. The father was missing his right arm. He hadn’t been scheduled for court yet so we didn’t process a venue change but I did have the opportunity to get to know him a little. He told me about the terrible violence the two of them fled. Each person I spoke to this week had stories of terror and persecution, one after one, all equally appalling and heartbreaking. Even through all of that, the father I met with still pulled out his phone to show me a photo of his daughter when they were back in Honduras before things got really bad. She was in her school uniform and apparently she was an excellent student. He was a proud parent, like any other.

Toward the end of my time there, I ran into one of the immigrant families from the day before, the family of three with the little girl. They had some follow up questions. I didn’t see them from across the dormitory room at first and then I heard, “Abogada! Abogada!” I turned around and greeted them with a smile and a warm handshake.

Reflections: Fear and trauma are common in the people I saw this week. It’s the rule, not the exception. But each person is just so happy to finally be in the U.S. and feel safe for the first time in years probably, that the journey didn’t matter. There was no complaining this week from immigrants, there was patience, understanding, and gratitude. The human condition is amazing. I have so much respect for everyone I met and I am so grateful to have been even a tiny part of their lives. The years will go by and times will change but I will never forget this trip and I will never forget their faces. My commitment to advocacy is solidified. It’s time for change.