HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Guatemalan immigrant Alejandra is living out her American dream. She arrived in the United States more than decade ago in search of better opportunities.
“My dream was my daughter have a better future and a better education,” she said.
Thousands of other immigrants are seeking the same opportunities and making the long and dangerous trek from Central America, crossing the U.S-Mexico border illegally in search of asylum.
Many children are traveling alone.
“It’s really sad because they risk their life,” said Alejandra. “Many of them die in the way. I feel bad, especially for the kids.”
Lawmakers said the spike in the number of people crossing the southern border is the biggest one yet with recent images surfacing of overcrowded facilities in Texas.
Alejandra believes there is a way to stem the tide.
“It’s time they close the bords [border] and found a better solution,” she said.
Edgar Aranda-Yanoc is a naturalized citizen and an advocate for immigration policy. As the senior lead organizer at Legal Aid Justice Center, he’s working on immigration reform.
“This is the right time for immigration reform,” said Aranda-Yanoc. “Rather than focusing on this as a problem, we should be focusing on helping and especially moving forward the comprehensive immigration reform so everybody can feel protected and also have the opportunities like anybody else."
Alejandra agrees. She said immigrants helped to keep the economy going at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
“United States no only need a doctor, engineer,” she said. “United States need people, farmworkers, people to clean, people to take care of kids and old people. Many jobs we the Latinos make, United States needs.”
Just like herself, Alejandra said every immigrant deserves an opportunity to dream big.
“I come United States for found a better job,” she said. “My dream is here.”
The crisis at the southern border is worsening.
Members of Congress in Virginia are weighing in on the surge of immigrants coming in from Central America.
“This should not be political,” said Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). “This should be about doing what is right to protect unaccompanied children, to secure our border and to make sure we are averting what has turned into a humanitarian crisis. To see the conditions there is really deeply concerning.”
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said she’s confident the conditions at the facilities in Texas will improve.
“There is a seasonal migration across South America to our southern border; this happens every year,” Luria said. “There’s a lot to be done to get at the root cause and we need to make sure we’re focusing and giving the right resources to keep our border secure.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) agreed.
“The numbers we’re seeing are not unlike what we were seeing during the Trump administration,” said Scott. “It’s not anything unprecedented. It is something we have to deal with, and we have to deal with in a way that’s humane and it’s complicated.”