Sandra Guzman-Guiterrez birthed three children.
She strove to build a quality life for them in El Salvador; still, there were some things she wasn’t able to protect them from.
About two years ago, her eldest son, Carlos, was killed for being gay.
Despite the pain of this loss, Sandra gathered some belongings and travelled through Mexico with her remaining children — Michael and Brenda. She dreamed of reaching the US and building a better life for her family.
Unfortunately, her other son, Michael, didn’t reach the destination with them.
“He disappeared on the way to Mexico,” Sandra said. “We still don’t know where he is.”
Shortly after crossing into the US, Sandra and Brenda were picked up by Border Patrol. They are currently in the Otay Mesa Detention Center, being held on $5,000 bond each.
There is no one in the US to sponsor them. Sandra and Brenda have been here for over seven months.
At this point, Sandra is considering self-deporting back to El Salvador. She said, “I didn’t know you had to pay for asylum. It’s sad to flee from your country and have no one to receive you.”
The days lag on. Sandra’s mattress is remarkably thin. The food is barely sustainable. It’s a struggle for Sandra and Brenda to remain brave. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the obstacles.
Despite her circumstances, Sandra hasn’t lost her ability to be kind. She went out of her way to make another woman feel welcome and taken care of when she was transferred to Otay Mesa.
The 22-year old placement in the detention center was an act of retaliation for protesting and succeeding to get her mother released. Sandra took Claudia under her wing, teaching her the ins and outs of the facility.
Apparently, it’s easy to get strikes for breaking a myriad of rules — going to the bathroom at the wrong time, not making your bed, etc. The consequence for breaking numerous rules is being sent to solitary confinement.
Recently, Claudia was released and wants to pay it forward. She wants Sandra and Brenda to break free of the cycle that latched onto them.
“My daughter and I want to outdo ourselves,” Sandra explained. “We want to work, be able to look for my son who is lost somewhere in Mexico and help my parents who are in El Salvador.”
There is currently a You Caring page up for Brenda and Sandra’s bond. Contributions have reached the amount of $4,526. The link can be found below: