"Please tell them we don't want to die."
Family from Guatemala
two daughters (9 and 3), mom (33) and dad (51)
Mom: We left Guatemala because the gangs killed my dad, and then they came after my husband. They were watching him all the time, when he left the house, when he went to work. They extorted us, and it got to the point we could no longer pay. They put a note under our door that said, “We hope your daughter’s funeral will be cheaper than paying us.” We had no choice but to travel. What they did to my father they would have done to us.
Dad: We heard that we could find safety in the U.S. and that it would require proof. So we got documents and took photographs of the notes, of the violence, and of my wife’s dad’s body.
Mom: When we got to the U.S. and tried to show the officers this proof, they didn’t care. They didn’t even look at it. They kept us in detention for six days. During that time, my older daughter got very sick. The food there was very bad and she couldn’t eat any of it. She has epilepsy and had a seizure. She had to go to the hospital. She is still traumatized from that experience. Children aren’t meant to not have their freedom. They aren’t meant to be treated like criminals. It’s not their fault.
Dad: They didn't believe I was my children’s father. They said I was too old to possibly be their dad and that I was lying. They made me take a DNA test to prove that I was their father. I was separated from my wife and daughters for six days. I saw another man and his son in detention who were so afraid of being sent back that the father would not sign the papers. The man bunched up his fist and wouldn’t do it. The agent grabbed his hand and forcibly unfurled his fingers and shoved his fingers on the paper.
Mom: We’re not safe in Mexico. We didn’t want to come here. But to return back to Guatemala would have meant the death of my husband and daughter.
Dad: It’s very important and good to share these stories. Thank you for sharing our story. We don’t want to die. Please tell them we don’t want to die.
These stories are from people who arrived at the Kino Border Initiative's comedor (dining room) in Nogales, Mexico from January to March 2020. Each person not only gave permission for their story to be shared, but also expressed the importance of people in the US paying attention to them and knowing more about their reality. They speak and they share because they believe that if we work together another world is possible.