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Elias’ Hope Story: A Father’s Wait

Hi, my name is Elias and this is my hope story…

In late November 2016, I sent a request to Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas to accept three refugee cases, my three children, coming from El Salvador to join me here in the United States.

My youngest was a minor child so my case manager reached out to meet with me and complete a Suitability Determination Study to ensure that my child would be coming to a safe, loving home. It quickly became clear to her that I love my children and wanted nothing more than for them to come to the US to be safe. I shared with my case manager how I had come to the U.S. when my youngest child was less than a year old, almost 17 years ago. I told them about my children, celebrating their accomplishments and ended up with tears of joy in my eyes.

I shared with them that my children had to drop out of school because it was too unsafe for them to travel to school due to the gang violence. The case managers explained that they did not know when they would come but that I would get a call as soon as they heard any news of their arrival. Weeks went by with no news. I stopped in one day in January, they checked their arrivals as soon as they got the calendar event, hoping for news. Nothing.

When I came into the Catholic Charities office for our next scheduled meeting, I almost immediately started telling them how concerned I was for my children’s safety because the situation was getting worse with the gangs every day. When I finished telling them my concerns they looked at me and told me, “Well then it’s good that your children will come to the US in a few weeks.” Shocked, I started to cry and asked them if they were serious. I immediately got up and hugged my case manager.

As I left Catholic Charities that day, I told them that God had blessed me with their staff and volunteers to help my children come to the U.S. to safety and that it is something I had prayed about for many years. When the Executive Order was issued, we found out that about 870 refugees were allowed to travel in the week following because they were already considered in transit or had protection concerns that required them to be able to travel quickly. By God’s grace, my three kids were a few of those 870 exceptions to the immediate implementation of the Executive Order.

When we met at the airport on the day of my children’s arrival, I told my case manager that my kids cried when they found out that they would be coming to the United States. When people started walking off the plane, I stood anxiously watching each passenger walk through the glass security enclosure. After watching what felt like hundreds of people coming off the plane, my children walked down the jetbridge and through the glass door.

I immediately held my children and tears of joy were shed by all. It was a truly beautiful moment! Our case manager visited us at our home the following day. She learned how my boys were soccer players back home but because they didn’t have a lot of money, they couldn’t play on the high level competitive teams, despite being qualified to play on them. My daughter loves to cook and loves dogs. All of my children enjoyed school and were excited to be able to go back to school and get their diplomas, and eventually college degrees.

But most of all, they were excited to live in safety. They no longer had to fear the gangs that had destroyed our country and forced them to live every day in fear. I pray that people see how brave and resilient my children are and that they undoubtedly will contribute greatly to their new home country. As our case manager left she told me that she knew that my children would succeed in the US because they are blessed to have a father who cares so much for them and who wants only the best for them. I thanked her and hugged her one last time. I told her that Catholic Charities and the opportunity they gave us to be resettled to the US and live together as a family most likely saved my children’s lives. God bless Catholic Charities!

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