Over the last several years a wave of undocumented migrants has sought refuge in the United States. This influx of immigrants is partly connected to the violence and poverty that has affected Central and South America. While many undocumented individuals currently seek asylum in order to avoid being sent back to crushing poverty or the threat of torture or death, the Immigrations Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has accelerated its raids across the nation. This leaves the masses of undocumented individuals to seek alternative pathways for remaining in the U.S. (story continues after video)
Chávez (who asked that we use only his last name for security reasons) is one of those individuals caught in the crossfire of his country’s political upheavals. Chávez and his family fled Colombia in the midst of a civil war between the Revolutionary Armed Forces (known as the FARC) and the Colombian government. After his uncle was brutalized and left for dead by U.S.-backed paramilitary forces in Bogotá, his family came to the U.S. in hopes of establishing a safer life for him and his sibling.
Since then, Chávez has adjusted to his life in Chicago and continues to nurture his community through grassroots efforts and community organizing. Although Chávez has stayed out of trouble himself, several years ago his older brother got arrested. At 16 his brother was tried as an adult for ‘aggravated attempted arson’ and was sent to a federal prison for three years. Afterwards, authorities transferred him to a detention facility and began deportation proceedings against him. Though his brother was able to win asylum, ICE has now redirected its attention to Chávez’ parents and siblings.
Though his deportation case is currently pending, it does not look like Chávez’ family will be able to attain the asylum they so desperately need. And the future remains uncertain for this young man, yet again.
Photo: Earchiel Johnson/PW