The following was shared by an asylum-seeking couple from Venezuela, who have chosen to remain anonymous for their security. The family was served by Border Servant Corps in Las Cruces, NM, which works in conjunction with LIRS to support asylum seekers.
Why did you decide to come to the United States?
There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest is political. Venezuela is controlled by a system, and, well, you move with them, or you move without them. We used to follow [Hugo] Chavez (the former president of Venezuela), but later we started to realize so many things and voted in favor of the opposition.
Those actions caused us trouble. We received a terrorist warning against our siblings, so we had to move them into our home. When that happened, [the government] invaded our home without a warrant, with no reason at all. We hid in another home for some time.
Wherever you go, there is someone who works for the government. Everything is controlled and supervised. Even a box of food you receive must be supervised by them, [and] you must vote in elections. When they realized we did not participate in the elections, they started to not sell us gas for cooking. Water was another problem.
What was the final impetus for you to flee?
We received a notice [from the government] instructing us to go to the police station. We sought out legal advice, and the lawyer told us that if we went, they would put us in jail and accuse us of terrorism. They can say whatever they want. We had no way to defend ourselves, and we decided to hide. When they found out that we hid, they said that as soon as we were caught, we would either go to jail or lose our lives. We decided to take our things and leave.
Only my father and aunt stayed behind, and then my father disappeared. His whereabouts are unknown. We are waiting to see how we can help find him and bring over because it is the only option we have. We hope he is in hiding—since he is older, we did not want to bring him through that jungle. [You spend] almost five days in that jungle. So many things happen. People die.
Can you share more about your journey to the United States?
The most difficult thing was when we passed through the jungle. We were in Guatemala one week, in Honduras one week, in Panama three or four days, and 27 days in Mexico. [When we first got to the United States], we were very afraid, but they treated us very well.
What do you hope for your lives in the United States?
What we wanted was to arrive and to work, continue our lives, and have a better future for our children. In our country, at least while the government remains in power, there is no future. We were not doing bad [in Venezuela]—we had our own apartment, our own car, our business, two children. But we had a jail sentence. It was too much to consider staying and living there. You just cannot do it. Hopefully this is all for the best.