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Javi’s Story. Caught

I cannot believe it! This is amazing! How did I survive? Why did I not die in that desert?

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The Cooler, McAllen, Texas, 2014. Mobile photo illustration with signage from McAllen, 2015/A Journey through NYC religions

The Cooler, McAllen, Texas. 2014 mobile photo illustration with signage from McAllen, 2016/A Journey through NYC religions


Sunday, December 2, 2012

I cannot believe it! This is amazing! How did I survive? Why did I not die in that desert?

I was alone on that mountain and I closed my eyes, and that was it. But this morning, I woke up inside of a police car. They say that I was collapsed on the shoulder of the highway.

I have chains in my hand and feet, but I just say thanks to God for sending the police that found me. The police are taking me to the check point of McAllen, Texas. They make sure I have no drugs or guns with me and then put me outside in a small jail made of steel.

McAllen border patrol unit. Photographer: Donna Burton/U.S. government.

McAllen border patrol unit. Photographer: Donna Burton/U.S. Border Patrol.


The jail is too cold. I am almost dying, bleeding, but the police do nothing for me. When I ask for help, they tell me to “just wait and relax.” I spend two hours on the floor of that small cell.

Then, a policeman takes me inside to the office where there are small rooms for undocumented people like me. He puts me inside of one of the rooms—at least the room is warm. I wait for three hours.

Then. another policeman takes me in my chains into the main office, where 20 officers sit in front of computers. About 40 undocumented waiting to be questioned. I do not see anyone whom I recognize.

Now, I am sitting with an officer who asks, in Spanish, for my personal information: my country, my name, my age, my parent’s name. He also asks me if I have a legal family in the United States.

While I am being interrogated, a police officer gives me two sandwiches with cold jam, a cookie, and apple juice. Then, another officer asks for my uncle’s name and his phone number. I give him the information so he can call my uncle who lives in New York City. However, my uncle doesn’t  answer for almost four hours. When my uncle finally answers the call, the police tell him that I have been found on a mountain and that I am going to be sent to a shelter where there are many other undocumented kids being detained. I speak with my uncle and ask him to tell my mom and sister that I am in a secure place.

The Coyote. Death to whoever follows. Do not trust.

"The Coyote. Death to whoever follows. Do not trust!" Sign at U.S. Border Patrol office. Mobile photo: A Journey through NYC religions




Three hours later, a minivan picks me and five other kids up from the check point and takes me to another cell. I have to stay here until all my information is ready. This cell has the capacity for 30 kids, but only one bathroom with no door.

The room is also so cold that it makes me cry. This place is twice as cold as the mountain! The other kids call this place La Hielera (The Freezer). I only have my blue jeans and a simple black shirt, and a plastic bag that the police gave me to cover my body. I chuckle grittily; maybe, the police think that I am a piece of meat, that I have to be in the freezer!

At 9:00 am they give me a plate of food, consisting of a cold piece of bread with jam and a can of corn. The police say that they are checking my information. At 5:00 PM dinner comes, a small can of beans, corn and bread.

At first I try to sleep, but it is hard because the room is too cold.So, I walk around the room and look out a small window in the door. I can see the cops eating big sandwiches and hot soups. They also have jackets, because they feel cold too.

I go back and lay down again on the floor with the plastic bag. I wish I could go back to my country, but it is too late. With tears on my face I try to go to sleep.

ICE Chart


Next: how does Javi avoid pneumonia?

Previously: Javi’s Story. Loss and death.

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Chart adapted from San Antonio Express.


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