Tito was meeting with the injured and beaten, people who had been rescued from kidnappings, when he realized that he had been lucky. Surrounded by tragic stories, he realized that “it was almost a miracle” that something similar had not happened to him.
Tito is 21 years old; he is smiling, tall and thin. His story is similar to that of many young people who are forced to grow up suddenly, to have their lives at risk. He studied in Santa Ana until ninth grade. He tried to study his first year of high school, but ultimately could not. He had to start working. He was hired informally as an interviewer and so was able to contribute some money to his household.
“I decided to migrate because of economic problems, to look for a better life. Eventually, I had some work here in the country. Some friends and I talked that if we did not get full time work, we were going to travel. Then, as time passed, and work did not come, we decided to travel. We all already had a reason. My mom does not work and my dad is not a dad to me. I saw my mom frustrated, quite sad, and that’s why I decided to help her,” he relates.
Without high school studies, formal employment, or a source of income in the family, he decided to leave in 2016. He saved $100 and with two other co-workers took a bus to the border of Guatemala, without a coyote. He traveled through Guatemala and crossed the Mexican border. “Once we were in the country, not one of us opened our mouths. We were all quiet because if not, they were going to notice that we were not from there,” he says.
Thinking back, Tito is sure that in the end his own mouth gave them away. He says that while they were driving on a bus to the Mexican capital, the driver heard them saying something. A while later, the driver stopped the bus and a policeman boarded, heading directly to them. Thus, his deportation began, without having reached their destination.
Tito and his friends were transferred to a shelter for migrants in Mexico. In a room with other migrants, many of whom had run into dangers such as disappearances, kidnappings and beatings, he realized that the road was not as simple as he imagined. He decided to apply for asylum in Mexico. In doing so, Mexico would have to investigate his request and what pushed him to make the decision to migrate.
In that center where he detained, the young man says that “in one corner was a part of a gang and in the other corner [there was] another one”. After 10 days of sleeping on “a cement bed with only a sheet”, he gave up his request.
El Salvador cataloged this with Migration as having been for economic reasons. Upon his return to San Salvador there was no one waiting for him. He went to the western terminal and retraced his steps until he reached his mother’s house.
“Months later they called me and I felt something strange and went to a meeting of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). The adventure began; it is because of them that I am studying,” he says with hope from the USCRI office in San Salvador.
USCRI is an NGO that works with refugees and immigrants, including deported migrants in El Salvador. Since last year, Migration has referred 252 young people to them for assistance. Those who are sent to this organization are between 18 and 25 years old, and their reason for migrating are a lack of economic resources. After referral, USCRI contacts them, makes an interview and seeks to place them in a training course or job placement. However, the phone does not always respond on the other side.
Eunice Olán, the Director of USCRI Central America, explains that they have already closed 64 cases. These are translated into 64 young people who, when they were wanted, did not want to belong to any program or had already embarked on the road to the United States.
Once Tito was deported his need became visible to the State. Being deported was the factor that gave him the opportunity to enter a scholarship program.
Now he is studying as a Technician in Industrial Electricity for two years at the ITCA of Santa Tecla. The committee receives $5 for each day they study. With that he pays for his photocopies, his lunches, and his bus ticket from Santa Ana.
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