The lack of a permit to work during the process of adjusting their immigration status complicates their situation

After living nine months with her four children and her sister in a homeless shelter, Jessica Valenzuela Méndez, an asylum seeker, found a rental home in southern Los Angeles.

"I still don't believe it," she says excitedly as she turns to see the three-bedroom apartment that has top quality finishes as well as central heating and cooling. On September 28 they moved to their new home.

But the smile of this mother, she disappears worried because she has not been able to find a job that allows her to pay the 2,600 dollars that the monthly rent of the apartment located in the back of a house costs.

Jessica Valenzuela ready to fight for political asylum. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

“The PATH organization helped us find this department, they paid the deposit and the two month rent. If we need it, they will take care of the payment for another month, ”says Jessica.

PATH making it home, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end the helplessness of people, families and community, and that everyone has a home.

Jessica bets that she, her sister and her eldest daughter find a job that allows them to pay the rent.

"The problem is that none of the three still have a work permit, and that makes things more difficult," he explains.

He put a job search ad in a popular ad publication, but received a response he didn't expect.

"The people who answered me only offered me employment in prostitution”, She says disappointed.

Jessica Valenzuela Méndez with her eldest daughter Paola, 19, and her baby, Samara, 7 months. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

It has also been found that many people abuse the need for employment that immigrants have. “I take care of two children from 2 in the afternoon to 12 at night three times a week. They pay me $ 30 for ten hours. I have accepted because that is better than nothing, ”he says.

This mother is 36 years old, her sister Gabriela de Paz, 25 years old. His eldest daughter Paola is 19 years old; Emanuel, 14 years old; Emma, ​​9 years old. All are from El Salvador, except for the 7-month-old Samara baby who was born in Los Angeles on March 25.

With a six-month pregnancy, Jessica left her country El Salvador and entered the United States with her children on January 1 of this year to apply for political asylum. After being detained for four days, she was released. She and her children came to Los Angeles where they stayed for a few days at a friend's house.

On January 10, their hostess took them to the Union Rescue Mission homeless shelter on Skid Row, the homeless neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.

"If it weren't for that shelter, my children and I would have lived on the street," he says.

One of the reasons he decided to emigrate to the United States was because the father of his daughter Emma, ​​a former guerrilla, is in jail accused of abusing the child; and from there he called her on the phone to demand that she take him to the daughter they both procreated to see her.

Emanuel Valenzuela plays the violin to his little sister Emma Valenzuela. Both minors are asylum seekers. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Besides her baby's father, Samara had emigrated to the US, months before her, in search of a better life.

"He is being detained for migration in Miami, but they are going to deport him," says Jessica, whose dream was to meet with her youngest daughter's father; and along with the rest of his family, start a new life in the US.

But even though that dream is not possible at the moment, she is willing to fight for asylum for herself and her children.

"For me it is more complicated because I have a 2014 deportation. I tried to enter the country, but the immigration agents grabbed me and deported me," he says.

The process of requesting asylum for their children progresses. “My oldest daughter has an appointment in court in March 2021; and my youngest children on January 13, 2020, ”he explains.

Her sister Gaby, who spent two months in detention at a Detention Center of the Migration and Customs Service (ICE) in Taylor, Texas, has not yet cut-off date.

Another obstacle he has encountered is the lack of legal assistance.

“We have been requesting legal support from CHIRLA (the Immigrant Rights Coalition); and of Esperanza (Legal Services Project), and we are waiting for you to tell us if you can represent us ”, external.

Los Valenzuela, a family from El Salvador in search of political asylum in the United States. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

In El Salvador, Jessica earned a small business where she sold pupusas.

"I would like to sell pupusas here, but I also don't want to break any laws," says this trapped mother, not knowing what to do.

And he adds that even with so many challenges to overcome, she is very happy because they already have a roof; and unlike the hostel, they can have privacy here.

But it takes away his dream not to work to pay the rent for that house that has cost him so much work.

“The trip from El Salvador to Los Angeles has been very difficult for my family and for me especially because I left my mother,” he acknowledges.

"We have been through very hard situations, but God has put in our way people who have helped us, although there are others who have tried to take advantage," he says.

Your children cannot hide their happiness because they have their own space to live. "For a long time when we were in the shelter, I felt bad for having them living in those conditions, but I am convinced that in this country there are more opportunities for them," external. His son Emanuel plays the violin and his daughter Emma, ​​the cello.

The brothers hug their younger sister when they were in the shelter for homeless people in Skid Row (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

“I left El Salvador because I want to give them a better life and protect them from the violence of my country,” he says.

“I am aware that we have to find a job, but I am confident that there are always options to get ahead,” he says. And she launches a call to those who can help her find a job for her, her eldest daughter and sister.


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