Read this story in Spanish.
As 2019 Mother’s Day approaches, CLINIC has gathered stories of four mothers who are or have been in the asylum process. It is our hope these stories highlight journeys of asylum-seeking mothers who have faced danger and endured sacrifices in order to provide their families with the opportunity to live free from persecution and violence.
Elena* is originally from Honduras and is a mother of two girls and one boy. She arrived to the United States approximately 3 years ago with her then 14-month-old daughter.
Elena made the difficult decision to leave Honduras after surviving several years of physical and psychological abuse from her husband. “My biggest fear was that my husband would take the kids,” said Elena. This fear stems from the constant threats from her husband to take her children away or kill her. Elena was able to leave her two children in the care of a family friend in El Salvador before fleeing to the United States seeking safety.
The abuse Elena suffered from her ex-partner forced her to make extreme decisions to protect herself and her children. “It is not logical to leave your children with a person you do not know, but the truth is that I had no other way out and it was the only solution I found,” said Elena. Family separation is the last resource when confronting situations where there are no protective measures and the risk of losing your life is imminent. “My greatest pain is not having my children with me. The worst thing that has happened to me is being apart from them. I did not leave them because I wanted to, but because I had to get out alive and provide for them,” said Elena.
When Elena entered the United States, the immigration authorities detained her and her daughter for 24 hours. She was later transferred to a Catholic shelter, where she received the needed support and orientation to reunite with her sister, Maria. Family reunification allowed Elena to have a support network in which Maria was able to financially support her niece and nephew in El Salvador as well as her sister and niece in the U.S.. Since then, Elena has obtained work authorization that has given her the possibility to support her children and herself.
For those who live away from their country of origin, it is common to yearn what one leaves behind. Elena’s reply to what she missed the most from Honduras was revealing: “The truth is that I do not miss anything because it does not bring me good memories. The only people I miss and want are my children, they are the only ones.” Elena says she maintains her faith and hope despite the pain being far from her children, to whom she hopes to reunite with in the near future.
Elena is one of many mothers around the world who have sacrificed everything to save her life and that of her family. To live fully – without beatings, threats and humiliations – is a universal right. Elena has sought a new chapter in the United States, free of violence. CLINIC stands in solidarity with her and all mothers who risk their safety so that their children have a future, different from hers.
*Name has been changed
Want to demonstrate your support of mothers like Elena? Sign our petition calling on the administration to end their relentless attacks on asylum seekers.