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Refugee Stories: “They killed my brother less than a year after he was deported”

The plight of refugees and migrants from South America grows more drastic and their fate more uncertain. Refugee Stories are testimonies from children, adults, and families, gathered by the Salvadorean Lutheran Church, our companion synod in El Salvador, and CARECEN, an organization working to change the immigration system, win legal status for immigrants, and foster community activism. These stories are a tool and a witness for Refugee and Migrant Sunday and beyond; please share them with your congregations and ministries.

“I can’t go back to Honduras because the gangs told me I had to leave, or they would kill me. About ten years ago, gang members were running from the police and hid in my brother’s house. My brother gave the police permission to enter the home and they arrested the gang members.

“After they were sent to prison, my brother was extorted by the gangs because he let the police in. The gangs said that if he didn’t pay, they would kill him. He went to another part of Honduras for a while so that the rest of our family would be safe.

“A few years later, the majority of the gang members were burned in a prison fire. After the prison fire, my brother returned home, but other gang members kept bothering him. I think they blamed him for their friends’ deaths, since they wouldn’t have been killed in the fire had they not been arrested and sent to prison.

“My brother decided to flee to the United States. He tried to ask the US government for protection, but he couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to help him. He lost his asylum case and was deported back to Honduras in 2011.

“Around the same time, the surviving gang members got out of prison and saw that my brother had not been killed by the other members of their gang. The gang members came to our house and killed him less than a year after he was deported.

“By then, the gang was stronger than before, and killing a lot of people in the neighborhood. Many families abandoned their homes. After they killed my brother, the gang left notes saying the rest of our family couldn’t live there anymore.

“We moved to our distant family’s village, but the gangs found us there and continued threatening us. While all of this was going on, I got married, but my husband ended up being extremely abusive. He raped me and beat me all the time, but I did not want to go to the police because of what had happened to my brother.

“Eventually, I couldn’t take the abuse anymore, and it seemed like the gangs were going to find me no matter where I tried to live in Honduras. I finally escaped one night and brought my three children with me to the US border to ask for protection.”