By Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) If statistics are any indication, thousands of children are still willing to make the daring journey to the United States alone.
Alone and afraid, 16-year-old Maria sat in the big American government building.
With her hands tucked between her knees, the dark-haired, dark-skinned girl cried as she explained why she fled Honduras and came here by herself, landing in metro Detroit.
“In my country, some men took me,” she said through a Spanish interpreter, her voice cracking. “They had me in a place, locked up with several children. … They wouldn’t let me talk. I asked them why we were there. They said I had no right to talk. They got mad, and that’s when they hit me.”
Maria, whose real name is being withheld due to safety concerns, is one of about 40,000 immigrant children who come to the U.S. alone every year in search of a better life. These young immigrants encounter hurdles of all sorts once they get here _ and things are about to get worse.
On June 11, President Trump’s administration overturned asylum protections for domestic abuse and gang violence victims, making it virtually impossible for children like Maria to prove that they qualify to live in the United States.
The Honduran girl’s fate is currently playing out in a Detroit immigration courtroom, where numerous daring teens just like her recently appeared before a judge. They are waiting to be reunited with family, granted asylum or deported.
Most of the young people did not have lawyers or family with them. Some hitched rides with strangers. Others dressed up for the occasion in business attire, which impressed Immigration Judge Jennifer Goreland, who warmed up to the teens with questions like, “Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?” Or “What’s your favorite TV show?”