Sunday, September 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Honduran families deported back to a bleak future

By
From page A10 | July 24, 2014 |

TOCOA, Honduras — Elsa Ramirez already had lost two brothers to violence in this remote Caribbean region when co-workers handling clandestine cocaine flights from South America murdered her husband four months ago.

Then the killers came looking for her.

Ramirez had seen Facebook messages and heard from relatives that mothers travelling to the United States with children would be allowed to stay if they made it across the border, so she took off for the North with her 8-year-old, Sandra, and 5-year-old Cesar, named for his dead father.

Two weeks and many thousands of miles later, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flight brought Ramirez back to the badlands of Honduras in Colon province, still fearing her husband’s killers and now lacking a plan for survival.

“I didn’t want to come back,” she said. “I wanted to give my children a better life and I can’t do that here.”

Overwhelmed by unaccompanied minors and women with children crossing illegally, U.S. authorities have stepped up deportations back to Central America. Ramirez was one of 58 women and children who returned last week on a U.S. flight to San Pedro Sula, considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Illegal immigration of Central American families and unaccompanied children spiked this year as rumors circulated that children, and women with children, would be released in the United States. Since Oct. 1, more than 57,000 children and 55,000 people traveling as families, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras, have been arrested. The spike prompted the Obama administration to expand detention space for families and to deport them more quickly — sending with them a stern message that there are no free passes for migrants coming illegally.

On the six-hour truck journey to Tocoa, an agricultural valley dotted by mansions, Ramirez described life in a region where drug trafficking pays like nothing else. One brother was killed in a family feud and another when he went to collect on a debt. Her husband worked the cocaine flights, and once earned $4,000 in just one day. He sometimes used their modest home to store drugs.

“I was scared, because when you’re involved in that, they will do things to your family,” Ramirez said.

Colon province is the center of Honduras’ drug-trafficking operations, which span the Caribbean provinces that are among the most dangerous in a country with the world’s highest murder rate. In 2012, the DEA targeted drug trafficking through Gracias a Dios with Operation Anvil, which became controversial after two pilots and four civilians were killed. It was later suspended and the drug flights continue.

After her husband’s death, Ramirez’s in-laws took possession of their home. The 27-year-old widow was left with his motorbike, clothes and a few cellphone photos of him with his ever-present pistol.

A housewife with no prospects for work, she stayed at her mother’s home until a relative in the United States sent money for a bus trip through Mexico and for a coyote to smuggler her across the Rio Grande to Texas.

Ramirez left with her sister, Yadira, and two children on June 3, and crossed the Guatemalan border to Mexico three days later. She and the children stayed in the town of Tapachula for two weeks while Yadira worked in the border bars, drinking and dancing with the men for money. But Ramirez, an evangelical Christian who had been with her husband since age 16, refused to join her.

“I’m not accustomed to attending to men,” she said.

Eventually she left without her sister, taking the 16-hour trip to Mexico City with the two children on her lap because she couldn’t afford more than one seat.

She carried her identification, their birth certificates her husband’s death certificate, and an honor badge her daughter had won at school to the border town of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, where other migrants warned to lay low because of kidnappings. But she needed to keep moving.

As she hailed a cab one afternoon, a group of men grabbed Ramirez and her children. They held the family overnight, demanding money. When she discovered the door was unguarded in the morning, Ramirez and the children escaped to meet the coyote. He kept them for five days, awaiting a $2,000 deposit from her family.

When she arrived at the U.S. border, Ramirez turned herself in to immigration officials.

“They asked me if I had guns or explosives,” she said. “I told them my problem and they said there was nothing they could do. That I had to talk to the judge.”

She was deported before seeing a judge.

She doesn’t remember the exact days or locations. She traveled by bus to several immigration stations, where she slept on the floor of what the migrants called “coolers,” because the air conditioning was turned up so high. One night her son was playing with another child in the bathroom, when he hit his head on the toilet and began bleeding profusely.

Immigration guards tried to handcuff her on the ambulance ride to the hospital, where her son’s wound was treated with two stitches.

“I said to them, ‘How could you think that I would take off and leave my son?’ “she recalled.

The night before she boarded the plane home, Ramirez dreamed of her dead husband. “He didn’t say anything, but he was hugging me,” she recalled.

When the plane landed in San Pedro Sula, Honduran First Lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez boarded to personally welcome the women and children home.

At the migration center, Ramirez was given a bag of groceries with juice to last a day, drinking water and the equivalent of about $25 in lempiras.

The deported women were angry.

Karen Ferrera was returning to El Progreso, a gang-ruled municipality outside of San Pedro Sula, with her 8-month-old baby. The 25-year-old had been trying to get to Wisconsin, where her mother lives.

“I told them I’m a single mother, with three girls, and no place to live in Honduras,” she recalled through her tears.

Glendis Ramirez, 22, also made her way back to Tocoa, where she picked up a horse for the final two hours of the journey to her mountain village.  Before leaving, she tossed out the tennis shoes she had worn on her failed trip to the U.S. “I never want to see them again,” she said.

When Elsa Ramirez arrived in Tocoa, she collapsed into the arms of her tearful mother in relief and frustration. Neither woman knew what the future would bring. Ramirez could hide out in her mother’s home for a time, she said, perhaps work as a cook or shop clerk.

Or with her husband’s killers still on the loose, she could try again to make the trek to the United States — but without her children.

This time, she said, “God didn’t want it to happen. Only He knows why He’s keeping us here.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • clancyJuly 24, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Sad stories .. Maybe when we get our citizens all taken care of we can help.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Lynn HenricksonJuly 24, 2014 - 2:43 pm

    Wow careful Clancy, people will think your a liberal....God forbid. Our citizens cannot be taken care of when the billionaires have all the money and the Republicans keep voting tax breaks, corporate welfare, and keep us fighting a war that cannot be won.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mikeJuly 24, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    That is a sad story but God there's hundreds of thousands of the same story. What does a United States nation of compassionate free people do ? How can this race of south American people be so cruel to their own ethnicity as to sell them out for drugs,money,murder and maham. Where IS the compassion. I don't get it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Hartley House offers look into Vacaville’s past

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
County makes recommendations for crude-by-rail

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

New toilet paper sizes will wipe me out!

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Travis teachers bring creativity to Shakespeare

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3

Olympians to participate in swim Lap-a-Thon

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Circle of Friends director to speak in Fairfield

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Coastal Cleanup helps get rid of trash in area

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Be alert to stroke warning signs

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

Recovery community works for lifelong sobriety

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Musical merry-go-round at Jazz Festival

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Deadline looms for lobster boil tickets

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
2 die after car slams into tree on Nut Tree Road

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Crashes blocks parts of eastbound I-80 in Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
BABA makes big spash

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

Seven Artisans opens tasting room

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Old Kmart site sees signs of new life

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Veterans with PTSD could see discharge upgrades

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

 
Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Fairfield police log: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Potential push for Obama to expand military effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as California wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

McInerney, Duka help Impact beat Earthquakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Old pets, new chances: The case for senior adoption

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C4

Retro-hip barber is growing an ‘empire’ by staying on the cutting edge

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C6

 
Jailed, some mentally ill inmates land in lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Custer youngest winner at 16 in NASCAR series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Tense hunt in trooper ambush case hits 8 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tour ship runs aground by NYC’s Statue of Liberty

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
More than 1K people search for missing UVa student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Second man arrested trying to enter White House

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Pope chooses a moderate for Chicago archbishop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Astronauts getting 3-D printer at space station

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Chrysler recalling nearly 189,000 SUVs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Fire captain injured in ice bucket challenge dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NATO chief: Ukraine has cease-fire ‘in name only’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Kurdish fighters head to Syria to face militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Turkish hostages freed, but questions linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Sierra Leone staggers in Ebola isolation effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
El-Sissi ready to back anti-IS fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

New car’s fuel mileage accuracy put to the test

By Glen Faison | From Page: A8

 
Stores miss bus on public transit

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Sunset Animal Hospital is the best

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Sound off for Sept. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Pulse poll: Will the drought end this year?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Obamacare enrollees actually paying premiums

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A9

 
Will they ever get the message?

By Rod Keck | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

St. Paul pastor’s pulpit? A food truck

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3 | Gallery

 
There is no message of hatred of violence in Christianity

By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 2 Comments

Horoscopes: Sept. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
My child’s father and I worked things out – but now I’m not so sure

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Author says Christian novel plagiarized, sex added

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Springsteen picture book out in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Erdrich wins lifetime achievement literary prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Designer Donna Karan memoir expected next year

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Prep boys soccer preview: Indians, Vikings off to fast start

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Patriots big favorites vs. Raiders despite mediocre start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Williams beats A’s for third time with third team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cardinals look to shake off distraction vs. 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Cashner, Padres beat Giants 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
No. 1 Florida St survives against No. 22 Clemson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sprint car driver killed in Wisconsin

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Vacaville Christian volleyball team falls in playoffs

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

Schumacher, Hagan win rain-delayed Carolina event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
College football Top 25

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Travis Bowl results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Mi Jung Hur, Paula Reto share lead in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Stars Recreation results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Estimated 7,000 fans trade in Ray Rice jerseys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

This date in sports history for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Sports on TV for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

Gaughan snatches Nationwide win at Kentucky

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Harvick dismisses wins as key to Cup title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

.

Business

Extended warranties a big sell. Are they worth it?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Recalls this week: fire alarm bases, swings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

US tobacco growers brace for tougher competition

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
Marijuana industry battling stoner stereotypes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

George Junior Rhode

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics