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Migrant Kids Are Still Waiting for Answers

Migrant kids in the U.S. may not know for years whether they can stay
Migrant Kids Are Still Waiting for Answers
Illustration by 731

Brian Reyes is 11 years old. In April his mother, Maria, pulled him out of school in Apopa, in central El Salvador, and told him they were leaving for California, where her sisters have lived for the past decade. Maria’s brother had been killed by gang members, and when they began to coerce Brian to join, she’d had enough. Maria paid coyotes—as people smugglers are called—$4,000, and two weeks later she and her son were in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.

Along the way they were picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Texas, who held them for less than a day before releasing them with orders to appear before an immigration judge to plead their case for asylum. Their case will be heard in April 2015, a year after they arrived. The Reyeses are among about 148,000 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras waiting for hearings in U.S. immigration courts, part of an unprecedented backlog that will take years to clear.