El Paso faith leaders shared details about their visit to Guatemala in Mid-February. HOPE Border Institute, a non-profit, coordinated the visit to understand reasons behind an increase in Guatemalan immigrants coming to the US/Mexico border seeking asylum.
Last week’s trip to Guatemala included visiting remote areas where the families of 7-year-old Jakelín Caal and 8-year-old Felipe Gomez-Alonzo live.
The group told KTSM the homes are small with thin walls. There are no floors. They sleep on the dirt itself. Traveling to the store is about a 45 minute walk one way.
Felipe and Jakelin are some of many who made the trip to the US/Mexico border. Both children died in December.
The group said families in poverty are being forced to flee to our border because they can no longer work the land and are looking for options to provide for their children.
“So why do you put your children through this? He said, we either stay home and starve or we make the journey and try to look for a better way of life,” said Rev. Jose Morales from the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
Hope Border Institute wants changes to take place to help people while they are in Guatemala so they don’t feel forced to seek help in the U.S. The group will meet with lawmakers to try to find solutions.