MARYLAND

Catholic Charities aims to help local undocumented minors

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) – Jose, an undocumented minor who made the dangerous journey from El Salvador to the United States, shared his story with ABC 7 News. Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Charities is assisting young immigrants like Jose, who have nowhere else to turn.

Jose is an undocumented minor who spent 15 days trekking from El Salvador to the U.S. (WJLA photo)

Jose’s words give a sense of the lonely passage minors are making to Mexico’s border with the United States; he says the 15-day trek from El Salvador to the border was “too tough, too treacherous.”

Jose—whose full name is being withheld because he is still in legal limbo—hid in buses and big rigs, running through deserted areas to get through Guatemala and Mexico, and finally to the border. He did it all in an attempt to save his life, largely out of fear.

Gang members tried to kidnap Jose, in order to recruit him. Though he was able to get away, the threats continued, so Jose’s family decided he should come to America.

“What I’m seeing is a lot of violence that these kids have experienced,” said Jennifer Girrard, an attorney at Immigration Legal Services at Catholic Charities. “I can imagine that the trend is going to continue.”

Minors who have been coming to the U.S. alone since October are being processed and released into communities.

At Catholic Charities’ legal orientation program for custodians of the undocumented children, 25 people typically show up. On Wednesday, there were 65.

“These are children of all ages who’ve really fought to survive much of their lives,” Girrard said. “It’s virtually a war zone in which children are being targeted.”

Jose says he is unsure whether his trek to America was worth it.

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