“Carlos” was born in a community outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He never knew his father and was raised by his aunt as his mother had gone to Spain to work and send money home to support him and his younger brother. In spite of his mother’s efforts, there was never enough food in the house. When Carlos was 11, he stopped going to school and began selling snacks in the market to help support his family. On Sundays he attended a nearby church and on Saturdays participated in a youth group that traveled to local communities performing plays made up of Biblical stories. When Carlos was 15, gang members started harassing him. They said he had to quit church and join them or he would regret it. Carlos tried to avoid the gang members as best he could and miraculously he was able to do so for a couple of years. Other friends in his youth group were also receiving threats and two were found murdered. One night after leaving the youth group, Carlos was followed by four people who cornered him and severely beat him. They said that if he did not join him, the next time he wouldn’t survive. Carlos made it home but was too afraid to tell his aunt or brother what had happened. He hid his injuries and plotted a way to leave.
The next day, Carlos boarded a bus to the Guatemalan border. He spent the next seven weeks traveling through Guatemala and Mexico – first by bus. When his money ran out, he hopped onto moving trains and rode on the tops of these trains. He befriended another youth along the way and together they helped each other survive the dangerous journey, sharing food when they came across it. Several times they were robbed and witnessed other migrants murdered or killed when they were knocked of the trains. Other times they experienced tremendous hospitality when local villagers tossed them food and clothing as the train rolled slowly through their towns.
Eventually, Carlos and his friend arrived in a border town at the U.S.-Mexico border. They stayed in this town for several days, trying to figure out how to cross into the United States. One night, they set off into the desert. After walking for several nights, Carlos and his friend became separated. Carlos had no water or food left and he thought he would surely die. The U.S. border patrol, however, found him and took him into custody. After staying in a shelter in Arizona for a few days, he was transferred to an unaccompanied youth facility near Seattle, Washington. He is in deportation proceedings and is applying for asylum because of the persecution he experienced in Honduras. However, soon Carlos will be 18 and will no longer be allowed to stay in the youth facility. He risks being transferred to the Northwest Detention Center, where adults in deportation proceedings are held, or living on the streets in a city he is unfamiliar with and where he knows no one.