While his nine-year-old daughter and student volunteers searched mountains of clothes for the right outfit, the Honduran father sat at the table staring past her.
He saved up thousands of dollars and traveled with one daughter to America, a land of second chances.
That man, his daughter, and the rest of their family were living in Honduras where their safety was threatened almost daily.
Gangs roamed the streets and, if caught in the wrong part of town, they could be killed.
On their journey in America they took a pit stop at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, where twelve UCA students and their Spanish professor, Assistant professor Alejandro González Landeros, traveled 14 hours and back, on the weekend of March 10, to help refugees in similar situations acclimate into the United States.
Freshman Haley Hunter recalled this story of the Honduran father and his daughter, explaining why they left and everything it took for them to make it to the United States.
“It just made me happy to see the little girl and the dad here because now they can have a better life,” Hunter said. “They gave me insight hearing their stories and knowing that they gave up everything to come here, and I think as Americans we should welcome them. We should love them.”
Hunter said because of Donald Trump’s policies, immigrants are flooding in trying to outrun the new immigration laws that are being put into place.
“Now that he’s president they feel like they don’t have a lot of time,” Hunter said. “So [a woman in charge of the church]told me that a lot are coming, much more than ever.”
Sophomore Rabi Kapran said immigrants should be better accepted, as America was founded by immigrants.
“America was born from American immigrant people, so what is America if you don’t receive immigrants anymore?” Kapran said.
Hunter said hearing the refugees’ stories allowed her to put herself in their position. She said that is what America is for.
“If I was in their shoes I’d want to come to America; I’d want to risk it all to have a chance,” Hunter said. “I think we should put ourselves in their shoes because America is a land of freedom. A land of second chances.”
Photo by Emily Gist