United States

Honduran Family Fears Violence if Forced to Return Home

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said violence is not grounds for asylum in the U.S.

President Trump is heading to Capitol Hill this week to talk about immigration reform as debate heats up over the administration’s 'zero tolerance policy' that separates parents and children at the border.

Dozens gathered at Texas Woman's University in Denton Sunday night for a candlelight vigil to stand in solidarity against families being separated at the border.

There is an undocumented migrant in North Texas currently seeking asylum who said she could have easily found herself without her young children right now.

Irma Rivera couldn't help but smile as she talked about her new life.

She said she has a job working with her brother doing plumbing work.

She feels safer than she's ever felt in her native Honduras.

Her family spent the afternoon celebrating Father's Day at a park in Fort Worth.

Rivera also feels very fortunate that her kids are not among the nearly 2,000 undocumented minors separated from their parents.

"Thank God they did not take them from me," she said in Spanish. "I don’t even want to imagine being separated from them. I've never been without them for a single day."

Rivera said she fled her native Honduras with her children after her husband was murdered by unknown assailants.

Violence, she said, was a constant fear.

The mother and her children joined a caravan of migrants, the majority from Central American countries, seeking asylum in the U.S. in April.

Rivera said she was sent to a detention center near San Antonio with her children before being allowed to reunite with her brother in Dallas in late May.

They barely avoided the 'zero tolerance policy' that resulted in children being sent to shelters while their parents were sent to detention centers.

Rivera was asked to respond to critics who say she risked her own children's lives to enter the U.S. illegally.

She said she doesn’t see it that way.

"There are people who judge and don't like that we're here," she said. "But they don't know the problems we had and may one day find themselves taking desperate measures to keep their kids safe too."

Rivera still faces an uncertain future in the U.S.

She said an immigration official has given her one year to make her case to a judge and that she fears for her and her children's lives should they be returned to Honduras.

However, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that domestic violence and gang violence are not grounds for asylum in the U.S.

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