Can she stay? Mother who fled violence in Honduras waits for answer
Posted June 22, 2018 2:48 p.m. EDT
HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. — A single mother who recently came to the United States seeking asylum after fleeing gang violence in her native country of Honduras is waiting to see whether she'll be allowed to stay.
Katharin Ponce was temporarily placed with a family in Happy Valley after she and her children, ages 2 years and 10 months, were released from a detention facility in Texas.
"It represents a new future for me, and most of all, for my kids," Ponce said through a translator.
Ponce left Honduras earlier this year after hearing about a caravan made up of thousands of people seeking asylum that was headed for the U.S. border.
Ponce said she had to cross a river with her children to cross the border from Guatemala into Mexico.
Once safely in Mexico, she said she had to turn back after her four-year-old son got sick and needed medication. She left him with family in Honduras, and started her trek north again with her other two children.
Back in Mexico, Ponce said, she and her kids climbed aboard the infamous "Train of Death," known as "La Bestia," which carries hundreds of thousands of migrants through Mexico each year.
After two days and two nights, Ponce said, supplies ran out, and an argument broke out over a couple cases of water dropped off by aid workers.
"At that point, the women started fighting with the men, and there was a big fight over the water," Ponce said. "They didn't want to share. The sun had made them desperate."
Ponce said it took her six weeks to get to the U.S. border, where she was eventually able to request asylum.
After her initial interview with immigration authorities, she and her kids spent several weeks in detention centers, where she said workers were respectful, but hygiene supplies were scarce, and doctors didn't speak English.
Ponce and her children were eventually released from detention, pending a decision on her asylum request, and are now staying with a family in Happy Valley.
Ponce's future in the U.S. is far from certain. According to statistics from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, of the more than 5,000 asylum cases processed in the month of March, the most recent month for which there is available data, only 43 were denied.
There have, however, been policy changes since March that could affect Ponce's situation.
Ponce has met with an immigration attorney, and is currently waiting for her asylum paperwork to be transferred from Texas.