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Refugee families make their way to eastern Iowa in search of the American Dream

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:17 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Two families from Honduras who have made their way to Iowa City are now seeking asylum.

These families were initially expelled at the border under Title 42, a policy that started under President Donald Trump and maintained by President Joe Biden which allows border agents to turn away migrants at the border because of the pandemic.

Now, however, a partnership between the Iowa City Catholic Worker house and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got the families admitted into the country after weeks of hardship. One of those families was Edi Aguilar’s.

Aguilar and his son left Honduras on February 28, almost three months ago.

”I left with the hope of coming here to have a better future for my family, my children,” Aguilar added.

Thousands of migrants from Honduras have been trying to escape hardship by making the journey to the United States. The Aguilar’s thought border agents would grant them refugee status and enter through El Paso, but what happened after, though, was not what they expected.

”And since we did not know the area, when we crossed the long bridge, it said ‘Welcome to Ciudad Juarez’,” he explained. “We were in Mexico, my God!”

They spent two and a half months in Mexico, in a dangerous city where they did not even feel safe taking the son to the hospital when he was sick, but then they heard from the Iowa City Catholic Worker house. The group sponsored Aguilar and his son and added them to an ACLU lawsuit against Title 42. That move got them their long-awaited ticket into the country.

”This is a dream come true,” Aguilar said. “My son is already going to school, a very pretty school that he could have never dreamt of back in Honduras.”

Kim Novak volunteers at the Catholic Worker house. She has been helping the families with errands like filling paperwork and taking them to appointments.

“A lot of it is just walking with people,” she said. “It is really giving them a friendly face, somebody they can trust and know.”

Novak said advances in vaccine distribution and lifting other COVID-19 restrictions, like traveling, indicate the country is at a point where it is time to get rid of Title 42.

”I really believe we are a country of abundance and we need to act like one and welcome the people that are here seeking asylum,” she added.

Through this process, Novak said she has learned from these families that moving to the United States is both an act of trust and desperation. That is why she is hoping to now provide some relief to those wanting to pursue the American Dream.

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