Nelson, Karla, Emily, Amogh: Immigrant stories


Immigration looms large on the political scene, as Washington rhetoric screams about THEM and THE ISSUES. Today’s blog post focuses small, on several individual stories, to remember that this debate is about people’s lives—and deaths. Nelson Espinal. Karla Rivera. Emily Rivas. Amogh Phadke.

If you have noticed that this blog has been AWOL for a week, or even if you haven’t, the culprit is my computer. It seems to be back on the job now—keeping my fingers crossed. (Though it’s difficult to type that way.)

Nelson Espinal and Karla Rivera were both part of the recent caravan of migrants from Honduras, both fleeing violence there, both hoping for safety in the United States. Both deported.

Karla lives in fear:

“Back in Honduras, she said she continues to receive rape and death threats — from the father of her niece, whom she reported for sexually abusing the child, from “macho men” who insult her because she is gay, and from the father of her partner’s children.

“Right now, I don’t leave my house much. I have to hide. I’m still worried about my life,” she said.”

She is thinking about joining another caravan, trying again.

Nelson Espinal cannot try again. Just a week after he was deported, the dangers that caused him to seek safety in the United States caught up with him. He was shot and killed outside his family’s home on December 18, leaving behind a seven-year-old son. Little Yojan sits and cries, and his relatives say he is already talking about trying to escape north.

Emily Rivas is safe from deportation. She is a U.S. citizen, born here to a Salvadoran mother who has lived here for two decades with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Temporary Protected Status is temporary—no path to legal residence, no path to citizenship. Now the Trump administration has ordered an end to TPS, has ordered hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Haitians, Sudanese, Nicaraguans, and Nepalese to leave the homes they have made here for decades.

“Maria says she’s “terrified of missing you growing up.” That fear, Maria says, looms larger for her than the thought of returning to El Salvador and facing drought, poverty and gang violence.

“As for Emily, she says, “I’m scared that I’m gonna have to do everything all by myself.”

“You’re not going to be alone, I promised you that,” Maria says. “And I’m very hard to get rid of. So I’m going to be on the phone all the time.”

Amogh Phadke is an Indian citizen with a master’s degree in computer science and an MBA. He has lived and worked in the United States for a decade, moving from one temporary H-1B visa to another. The uncertainty gnawed at him, but the last straw came with Trump’s threat to revoke work permission for spouses of H-1B visa holders. His wife was already in Canada, studying. They could both get permanent resident visas there. He joined her in Edmonton.

The couple are among many highly-trained, highly-skilled professionals being recruited away from U.S. companies by Canada. In 2017, as Trump threatened immigrants in the United States, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched Global Talent Stream, “a program designed to fast-track work authorization for those with job offers in high-demand realms of science and tech.

This year, the Canadian Parliament said it wants to add one million permanent residents over the next three years, “nearly one percent of the country’s population each year.” 


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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