With 323 interviews with Salvadoran children deported from Mexico transcribed, translated and coded, I’ll be making several posts about origin, destination and cause in the coming days. Because the Foreign Ministry here is interested in where Salvadoran communities are largest in the US, I am delivering this information first.
301 of 323 (93.2%) wanted to reunite with a family member or close friend who s/he considered family in the United States. The largest number (12%) wanted to go to New York. Of the 39 children who hope to arrive there, 10 are female and 29 are male. The second largest number (11.8%) wanted to end up in Los Angeles, California or Houston, Texas. Of the 38 kids hoping to reach LA, 14 are female and 24 are male. Of the 38 hoping to reach Houston, 17 are female and 21 are male. In fourth, 31 (9.6%) wanted to go to Virginia, 13 of whom are female and 18 of whom are male. In fifth, eight females and 11 males wanted to be in Maryland, for a total of 19 (5.9%). Twelve (3.7%) were headed for Dallas, Texas: four females and eight males. Another eleven (3.4%) hoped to arrive to Atlanta, Georgia: two females and nine males. Boston, Massachusetts followed as the eighth most common destination, with 10 children (3.1%) headed there: two females and eight males. Rounding out the top ten are North Carolina and Tennessee, where nine (2.8%) each wanted to arrive: four females and five males to NC and two females and seven males to TN. Other locations with five or more include: Washington, DC, New Jersey, and San Francisco, CA.
As you can see, the list is a mixture of states and cities. Children — and their family members — were often unable to name a city within a state, with cities in California and Texas being the exceptions. Specifically, if participants were headed for “Washington,” they struggled to state whether they meant the state or city. Fifteen of 323 (4.6%) were unsure where in the United States they would live. Nine (2.8%) said they were going to live with both parents, even though their separated or divorced parents lived in states hundreds of miles from each other (for example, California and New York or Florida and Texas). Six (1.9%) did not know where their relative lived.
Ten of 323 (3.1%) wanted to arrive to the United States but do not have family or friends there. They also could not name a city or state where they hoped to reside.
Three of 323 (0.9%) wanted to stay in Mexico. All three were females and were traveling with other family members who had already resided there for two years or more. One family fled El Salvador when they could no longer pay the neighborhood gang’s renta, and the other left to escape their husband/father’s abuse.
Finally, nine of 323 (2.8%) did not respond to this question. In reality, their bus was leaving, and we ran out of time. Everyone to whom I’ve posed the question has responded.