Kelvin Villanueva was almost home one night last June when a policeman stopped him for a broken taillight. From his truck, he could see his longtime girlfriend, Suelen Bueno, waiting for him behind the glass door of their apartment. She often did that when he worked late. Villanueva supervised a small team of Hondurans — like him, undocumented migrants — who did finish carpentry on construction projects throughout Kansas City. It was normal for them to put in 12-to-14-hour days. During his 15 years in the United States, he had never been pulled over. Still, Bueno worried. The threat of deportation did not subside with time. You just had more to lose.
Before Bueno reached them, the officer had arrested Villanueva. After being transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he spent the next four months circuiting a nexus of prisons and detention centers. Mostly, he was in a Missouri county jail that held Americans accused of felonies. Fights frequently broke out between the black and Latino inmates. Villanueva kept to himself, rarely leaving his bunk, passing the weeks by reading and drawing. He called Bueno and their children every day. When they met seven years earlier, at an adult-league soccer game, Bueno already had a young son and daughter; she and Villanueva had since had another one of each together. Villanueva didn’t differentiate. He’d always treated Bueno’s first two children as his own. Now, when the kids asked when he would be back, Villanueva told them, ‘‘Soon.’’
Bueno, who was also undocumented, could not visit Villanueva during his incarceration. Instead, she borrowed enough money to hire an immigration lawyer, who filed an asylum claim on Villanueva’s behalf. Before his hearing with an immigration judge, Villanueva was interviewed by an asylum officer, whose job it was to determine whether he possessed a ‘‘credible fear’’ of persecution in Honduras — would he be at risk of harm because of his race, religion, social group or politics? The officer’s analysis would inform the judge’s decision on whether to suspend or proceed with Villanueva’s deportation. When Villanueva spoke with the officer — from prison, by telephone, via a translator — she began by asking him why he came to the United States in the first place.
‘‘To live and work,’’ Villanueva told her, ‘‘because in my country it is very difficult.’’
‘‘Difficult’’ might have been an understatement. Honduras is among the poorest and most violent countries in Latin America, and Villanueva’s hometown, San Pedro Sula, has ranked as the city with the highest homicide rate in the world for the last four years. (In 2014, 1,319 of its 769,025 residents were murdered.) Much of the bloodshed is gang-related. During the 1980s, waves of refugees fled civil conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, many settling in Los Angeles, where street gangs were proliferating. Among Central Americans, two dominant organizations established a vicious rivalry: the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and the 18th Street Gang. When tough-on-crime legislation during the 1990s generated mass deportations, thousands of California gang members were sent back to developing countries ill equipped to receive them. In feeble, corrupt states like Honduras, the MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang flourished, brokering alliances not only with politicians, prison authorities and the police but also with Mexican and South American drug cartels. The narcotics trade fueled the war between the two groups with unprecedented access to weaponry and cash. In San Pedro Sula, as in many other places throughout the region, resources plus impunity equaled more murder, torture and rape.
Pour lire l'article dans son entièreté : http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/magazine/the-deported.html?emc=edit_tnt_20151209&nlid=49063493&tntemail0=y