A guard stands wait outside of the deportation processing center in San Salvador. Jose was bused here in August after being caught in Mexico. (Jude Joffe-Block)
American immigration courts are gearing up to decide the fate of tens of thousands of children from Central America who came to the United States border in recent months. Meanwhile, Mexico has been cracking down on these migrants en route north, and is already sending children back to their home countries.
REPORTING FROM EL SALVADOR — There’s an important bridge in this rural town in the Salvadoran state of La Paz.
Locals say the bridge divides the town between two rival gangs, on one side a gang tied to MS-13, and on the other, one affiliated with Calle 18 — commonly translated as the 18th Street gang.
These gangs originated in Los Angeles and have overrun El Salvador.
On the day that we visited this bridge, a man on a bike rode up, staring at us. He was wearing the white Nike shoes that only gangsters wear here. He stopped near us, still staring, and made a call on his cell phone.
This seriously spooked our driver, who is from the capital San Salvador. He motioned for me to stop recording and get in the car.
We drove away quickly to avoid any possible trouble.
But for many who live here, getting away from the gangs isn’t so simple.
“The way things are now, going out into the street means danger, or death,” said José, a 16-year-old from this town who tried escaping to the United States twice this summer.