Local News

Durham mom hopes federal program helps bring son from El Salvador

Posted August 10, 2015

— Sixteen-year-old Melvin Perez lives in El Salvador, far from his mom, Ana Perez, who lives in Durham.

She recently moved into a new home, and a photo of her son was one of the first things to go on display.

"This is not a life," she said through an interpreter. "I am not happy or at peace if he is not with me."

She is hoping a new federal program – called the Central American Minors Refugee program – will help her bring her son home soon.

It gives some children in Central America a chance to reunite with their families in the United States without exposing them to the dangers of being smuggled across the border.

"I always fear what could happen to him on a journey like that," Ana Perez said.

To qualify, children must be under 21, from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, and their parents must be in the United States legally.

The process involves substantial paperwork, interviews and DNA testing.

In a phone interview, Melvin said he needs to get out of El Salvador because of gang violence and to be with his mom. Now, he is waiting to waiting to find out if the government will grant him refugee status.

"My goals would be to study and then help my mom," the teen said.

CAM Refugee processing centers in North Carolina

Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency
Address: 5007 Monroe Road,Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28205
Phone: 704-535-8803 Fax: 704-535-8806

Address: 1123 SOUTH CHURCH ST
CHARLOTTE, NC 28203-4003
Phone: 704-370-3277 Fax: 704-370-3370

Church World Service-IRP
Address: 112 S. Duke Street, Suite 4-B
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-680-4310 Fax: 919-680-4320

World Relief Durham
Address: 801 Gilbert Street #209
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-286-3496 Fax: 919-956-5918

Church World Service-IRP
Address: 620 S. Elm Street, Suite 315
Greensboro, NC 27406
Phone: 336-617-0381 Fax: 336-617-0654

Address: 122 N. ELM ST, SUITE 810
Phone: 336-574-2677 Fax: 336-574-2672

World Relief High Point
Address: 155 Northpoint Ave Suite 102
High Point, NC 27262
Phone: 336-887-9007 Fax: 336-887-5245

Diocese Of East Carolina Interfaith Refugee Ministry
Address: 1913 Trent Blvd.
New Bern, NC 28560
Phone: 252-633-9009 Fax: 252-638-7570

Lutheran Family Services In The Carolinas
Address: 616 Hutton Street
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: 919-861-2813 Fax: 919-832-0591

Address: 5 West Hargett Street
Suite 202
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: 919-334-0072 Fax: 919-334-0077

East Carolina Interfaith Refugee Ministry - Wilmington
Address: 610A S. College Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28403
Phone: 910-264-7244 Fax:


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Susan Olvera Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yeah, no. I'm a conservative voter that thinks instead of listens to everything Fox News reports. But, good try. You get a gold star. Or would you prefer a Confederate Flag instead?

  • Caitlin Stevens Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Susan West, Hillary looks forward to your Vote !

  • Angie Cox Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    It's hard telling what he's been exposed to and my fear is he will bring it over to our kids and teach them bad things.

  • Kristin Byrne Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Reading comprehension and logic are wonderful things. The article clearly states that in order to qualify for the program, the parent must be in the country LEGALLY. If she's eligible for the program, she's in the country legally.

    As for the English thing, is it frustrating? Yes, but when my relatives came over from Europe, many didn't speak English, nor did they ever learn. The younger generations acted as their interpreters. Is that different because they came from Europe? Or would you have the same nasty attitude towards them?

  • Susan Olvera Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    No, she's probably too terrified to do it. Coming from El Salvador usually involves riding the top of a train that runs through Mexico. It's very dangerous, the gangs run the train and if you don't give them your money ( or if you're female, your body ) they will throw you off the moving train. The Mexican immigration authorities are also terrorists with a badge.This documentary is available on Netflix and it follows a group of Central American migrants trying to come to the USA via The Train. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451698/

  • Susan Olvera Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    When I saw 6 comments, I knew most of them would be racist, hidden under "immigration" conversations. This woman is here legally and she's trying to bring her son here legally. She probably has a job, that means she pays taxes, which means she'll be paying for her child's education if he attends public school. If you have a problem with that, then you have a serious problem. End of story. She probably used an interpreter because she has a thick accent or because she feels her English isn't proficient enough to truly convey her emotions. My husband is a naturalized American citizen from Mexico and took three years of ESL classes and he still struggles with some verbs.

    Our neighbors came her from El Salvador and were granted political asylum. They were washing their clothes at the river bank and saw a man murdered with a machete by a gang member. Our neighbor was 5 years old when he watched a man bleed to death. Let that sink in. He's now a citizen and works for the WFPD.

  • Jo Peterson Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Just another burden on local schools and the system. Most of the money these folks make goes straight back to their home country on payday and not into the community or businesses. It is a large part as to why the economy is still garbage.

  • Norman Lewis Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    One more thing, why is this mother in the U.S. without her children? Is it because she could not work out the specifics of the illegal smuggling of her children? Immediate deportation of anyone found in the U.S. without proper documentation will only stem the tide of illegal drains on our social welfare structure. America for Americans first.

  • Norman Lewis Aug 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Interesting how matter of factly this mom implies that if her son is not allowed over legally, he will be smuggled. What is mom's legal status? Story says "resident alien" without specifying. I am guessing the point of this story is that if a parent illegally comes to the US that we should allow all their children to come across legally and join them? All legal residents should be required to have a functional competency in English in a reasonable period of time as part of the LEGAL residency process. I hate to disappoint all those future Democratic party voters with that requirement. I only state what so many others are thinking. Story mentions the Refugee program without saying if this particular child is even eligible, only his age and implying so. Why do all the paperwork when you can just walk across the border?

  • Caitlin Stevens Aug 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Sorry Mr. Elliott, In another sites article it cited that Ms. Perez has been been in my country 4 years ! more than enough time to learn ENGLISH !