Central American gangs like MS-13 have provoked many immigrants to flee their home countries. Youth Radio’s Andrea Jiménez describes an unexpected downside.
I was born in El Salvador, the smallest country of Central America. It’s also considered one of the most violent. But I remember my home country differently.
The memories I have of El Salvador are peaceful. I remember going to school, picking fruit off trees, and visiting my dad at his plant nursery. I came to the U.S. when I was 5.
My parents focus on the good rather than the bad: the beautiful landscapes, their own sense of belonging, and wonderful food. However, they don’t avoid the bad memories, like when my mom was assaulted in broad daylight, or when my parents lost their small business after too many robberies.
Since we came to the U.S., our family has not been able to return to El Salvador even for a visit. My dad’s family is mostly in the States. So our move was especially difficult for my mom, who had to leave her entire family behind. I can see the strain on her--more these days--as her parents are aging. As a result, I’ve had to grow up without knowing my mom’s family and not knowing if I ever will.