DETENTION – UNITED STATES: Carlos, 16

 

CARLOS FROM HONDURAS DETAINED IN THE USA, AGED 16

PART 2: Carlos’ journey to the United States took about a year. He spent days in some places and weeks in others. He was caught and detained in Mexico for a few hours. Detention in Mexico ‘was pretty ugly, cold, dark. I was really depressed because I was half way through Mexico. They got me and threw me back to Guatemala.’ From the Guatemalan border, Carlos resumed his journey north.

He stopped in a range of places to work ‘because I didn’t have any money, so I needed to get some food or something.’ As a child worker, he was easily taken advantage of: ‘In my country I was exploited since day one. I studied to be a technical mechanic and I knew my work and I was good, but I never got paid for it. They were always lying to me just because I looked so young in Honduras. I worked a couple of times in Mexico and the same thing: they didn’t pay me as they should. Or they say they would. But I always got exploited.’

Carlos attempted to cross the border from Mexico into the US over twenty times. Each time, he was caught. But instead of being sent back to Guatemala or even all the way to Honduras as a minor, he convinced the US border guards that he was an adult.

‘I got returned back to Mexico because I told them that I was Mexican and so they just kick you back to the border. And then you try to get in again and again. I wasn’t thinking about it too much, that it could affect me. I was just trying to put my mind on getting across. That’s why I did it too much, all those times. And plus I didn’t have any money to pay people to help me across.’ Finally, he made it across the border in Tijuana – from where you can see down town San Diego.

If you did something wrong, then they’d put you over there, for a couple of days…they’d put you in ‘the hole’, they called it, which is a small room. There’s no windows, just a door. I was there for probably three days. The only thing I had there was a bible. I was really confused and stuff. It was really small [and]

I was like kind of being the free guy, you know, I did the journey, and being in that space, kind of tripped something in my mind…I felt like an animal. I felt, and I was believing myself, that I was bad, that I had something that other people can see but I couldn’t see. And that is why they made me believe that I probably acted, that I had such bad behaviour, that I deserved to be there. I was starting to believe that I deserved to be there. I started thinking that I was a mean guy then, and that I probably deserved it.

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Artwork by Nani Puspasari