Trip to El Salvador: A True Eye-Opening Experience

I recently returned from a trip to El Salvador where I served as an International Observer for the Congressional elections. Many people in my District have deep roots here or personal connections, and therefore it was very important to me. To say the least, it was educational and truly eye-opening, and I wanted to share some of my experiences with you.

During the trip, I was proud to witness this 26-year old democracy undergo its March 2018 elections. It was exciting to see the level of involvement from the multiple parties and entire families exercising their civic duty. I was also better able to understand the repercussions that unjust U.S. immigration policies have on Salvadorans once they are deported. 

I visited the National Council for the Protection and Development of Migrants and their Families (ConMigrantes). This innovative institution in Central America, under the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador Hugo Martinez, seeks to address the many compounded problems that deportees face while integrating them back to society.

What I saw and heard during the few hours that I was there was heart wrenching. Individuals still wearing construction clothing, chef, coats, or valet vests all apprehended and sent back to El Salvador. These articles of clothing representative of their pursuit of the American Dream. Seeing children as young as 11 returning from such a harrowing and traumatic journey was devastating. 

In essence, ConMigrantes is a welcome center that warmly embraces the lost and offers hope to the hopeless. They work to restore an individual’s dignity and worth as a human being by offering something as simple as a change of clothes. Here, individuals have access to showers, doctors and the opportunity to reunite with family, if they’re lucky enough to have any. 

I share this anecdote because it has reinvigorated my passion to continue fighting for immigrant families, our Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and any neighbor who feels under attack by the Trump Administration. As a Member of the City Council’s Committee on Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity, I pledge to continue to do everything in my power to defend and keep our families together.

If you or someone you love has questions about immigration, please contact the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) satellite office inside my Constituent Service Center at (323) 846-1807 or via email at southla@chirla.org.

My sincerest thanks to the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund for inviting me to be an International Observer. For more information on all of the wonderful things this nonprofit organization is doing locally, please visit www.salef.org.

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