Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A 12-Year-Old’s Trek of Despair Ends in a Noose at the Border


Noemi Álvarez Quillay’s death in Mexico was ruled a suicide. Credit José Luis Llivisaca 
 
By Jim Dyer, New York Times 

Noemi Álvarez Quillay took the first steps of the 6,500-mile journey to New York City from the southern highlands of Ecuador on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after darkness fell.

A bashful, studious girl, Noemi walked 10 minutes across dirt roads that cut through corn and potato fields, reaching the highway to Quito. She carried a small suitcase. Her grandfather Cipriano Quillay flagged down a bus and watched her board. She was 12.

From that moment, and through the remaining five weeks of her life, Noemi was in the company of strangers, including coyotes — human smugglers, hired by her parents in the Bronx to bring her to them. Her parents had come to the United States illegally and settled in New York when Noemi was a toddler.

Noemi was part of a human flood tide that has swelled since 2011: The United States resettlement agency expects to care for nine times as many unaccompanied migrant children in 2014 as it did three years ago.

For these children wandering thousands of miles, it is a grueling journey, filled with dangers. The vast majority come from Central America. Noemi’s trip was about twice as long. She had already tried once, leaving home last May, but was detained long before she even made it halfway.
 
 
María Jesús Guamán and Cipriano Quillay raised five grandchildren, including Noemi, whose parents had emigrated. “My four children went to find decent lives,” said Mr. Quillay. Credit Maggy Ayala 
 
“I went with a coyote and spent two months in Nicaragua and came back from there,” she wrote in a school information sheet.

She got a little closer this year. In March, a month after she left home, the police picked up Noemi and a coyote in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The authorities took her to a children’s shelter. She was described as crying inconsolably after being questioned by a prosecutor. A few days later, she was found hanged from a shower curtain rod in a bathroom at the shelter. Her death, ruled a suicide by Mexican authorities, remains under investigation by a human rights commission there.

The number of unaccompanied minors caught entering the United States and then referred for placement is expected to reach 60,000 in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, said Lisa Raffonelli, a spokeswoman for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an increase from 6,560 in 2011. In Mexico, the number has more than doubled.

No single factor explains these surges, but in Noemi’s hometown there are clues about the forces at work in her story.

In the district of El Tambo in Cañar province, her maternal grandparents, Mr. Quillay, 57, and María Jesús Guamán, 59, live in an adobe home with no running water. About 15 years ago, during an economic crisis in Ecuador, their adult children began migrating to the United States without visas.

“My four children went to find decent lives,” Mr. Quillay said. “So I took over five grandchildren from when they were little.”

They ate from the grandparents’ farm. “We don’t have the little sweets that they sometimes ask for,” Mr. Quillay said.

“She was just born when her father left, and when she was 3, my daughter decided to go herself,” Ms. Guamán said of Noemi. “I raised my granddaughter the same as the others.”

As the children grew, their parents sent money to pay for the construction of a two-story concrete house nearby where the five grandchildren, cousins, lived on their own.
 
Leonela Yupa, a cousin and playmate of Noemi, remembered playing “cocinita” with her — fashioning from their imagination a little kitchen where they fixed pretend meals. Noemi often joined in one of the world’s universal games: hide and seek.
The home of Noemi's grandparents, which lacks running water. Credit Maggy Ayala Samaniego 
 
The children moved through a landscape that is a hybrid of peasant houses, like the home of their grandparents, and larger, modern ones that are “a symbol of the success of the Ecuadorean immigrant,” said Rafael Ortiz, mayor of El Tambo.

The Quillays’ unparented household was common. “We have 1,040 students, and at least 60 percent are children of migrant parents who have been under the care of grandparents, uncles or older siblings,” said Magdalena Choglio Zambrano, a guidance counselor at the regional high school.

The parents abroad “at times send a little shirt, shoes, $100, but it is not the same as being papa or mama,” Noemi’s grandfather said.

A generation of children who grew up on their own in El Tambo have started to leave, getting a hand from their parents abroad, but still requiring shadowy journeys.

“Now we are seeing that the migrants are small children or teenagers whose parents are sending for them, running the risk of putting them in the hands of the coyotes to whom they pay 15, 20, 25 thousand dollars,” said Ms. Choglio, the guidance counselor.

The cost of the trip depends on whether the smuggler uses airline flights to cut down on overland travel, Mayor Ortiz said.

“We don’t know anything, not how they go or where they go,” Ms. Guamán said. The parents “made the arrangements directly from there, and they called to tell us when we had to send the girl.”

Both grandparents say they and Noemi were reluctant for her to leave. Ms. Guamán said she argued with her daughter, the girl’s mother.


“I said to her, ‘Why take her away? She’s studying here, she’s doing well,’ ” Ms. Guamán said. “But my daughter says education in Ecuador is no good and it’s better for her to study there. And she took my Noemi away, only for this to happen.

Little is known about Noemi’s travels until about 4,000 miles later, more than a month after she left home.

On Friday, March 7, in Ciudad Juárez, police saw Domingo Fermas Uves, 52, urinating outside a pickup truck, according to Alejandro Maldonado, a police spokesman. Inside was Noemi. In the official account, Mr. Fermas told officers that he was part of a network of smugglers hired by the girl’s family to take her to the United States. The man gave false details about the girl, saying she was 8 years old and from an inland state in Mexico. The police recorded her name as Noemi Álvarez Astorga.


Noemi was taken to Casa de la Esperanza, a shelter for Mexican minors whose name means “House of Hope.” Over that weekend, she was questioned by a prosecutor. After that, a doctor described Noemi as being “terrified,” according to a report in El Diario of Juarez.

On March 11, when called to eat, Noemi instead went into the bathroom. Another girl could not get in. The doctor, Alicia Soria Espino, and others broke open the door and found Noemi hanging by the cloth shower curtain.

The next day, her parents in the Bronx received a phone call from a woman who told them that Noemi had safely crossed the border. Later that day, they received a second call saying that she had died, according to Ecuadorean consular officials.

The authorities determined that the girl initially thought to be an 8-year-old Mexican was probably the 12-year-old Ecuadorean. In part because her parents, who do not have legal immigration status, decided not to go to Mexico, DNA tests were required to confirm her identity, said Jorge W. Lopez, the Ecuadorean consul general in New York. Autopsies found no sign of a sexual assault, a common crime against migrants.

The  man said to have been the smuggler, Mr. Fermas, was arrested but was later freed by a judge, who did not find enough evidence to hold him for prosecution, said Ángel Torres of the federal prosecutor’s office in Ciudad Juárez. “Mr. Fermas is still under investigation for immigrant trafficking,” Mr. Torres said. In published interviews, 

Mr. Fermas has said that the story about the pickup truck was untrue and that the police had entered his house and taken the girl under the guise of rescuing her. In the week after Noemi’s death, 370 foreign child migrants were detained across Mexico, according to the national immigration agency. Nearly half were traveling alone.

The minors coming from Central America and Mexico are “propelled by violence, insecurity and abuse,” the United Nations high commissioner for refugees said in a report issued the day after Noemi’s death. The prospect of immigration reform in the United States is also enticing, Mr. Lopez said, because of the belief that anyone already in the country illegally will be allowed to stay.

Noemi’s parents have said little publicly. Her mother, Martha V. Quillay, who works in a hair salon, spoke briefly with a reporter, then curtailed the conversation. Her father, José Segundo Álvarez Yupa, a construction worker, said it was too difficult to discuss. “These are private matters,” he said. “This is a very painful thing. It’s all over. We want to recover, we want to move on.”

Last week, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who was visiting New York, called on the family at their home in the Bronx to offer condolences. Ms. Quillay posted pictures from the president’s visit on her Facebook page.

Msgr. James Kelly, pastor of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, which has a large number of Ecuadorean parishioners, said recently that he heard every day about the young people traveling alone.
 
“I had parents in here yesterday whose child was coming north,” Father Kelly said. “They wanted a Mass said, that the journey would be safe.”

30 comments:

  1. What a shame! Everyone directly or indirectly but that child is to blame for her death.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the article Chivis. I don't understand though, why did her parents go to New York without her?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heartbreaking...wish I hadn't read this at work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shame on us , as immigrant from Mexico this is unacceptable a little teen and no anly that but thousands of others that lost their lifes with the only goal of have a better life shows how mexicans care about them only and money that blood is in our hands....Hernano mexicano if you dont do anything about it and then you are part of the problem

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pues ponte a trabajar

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Heartbreaking...wish I hadn't read this at work"
    It affects me the same way....
    Oh man,looking at her face breaks your heart,she has a sad look in her eyes.
    She may have felt lonely and abandoned with no one to turn to,she was a child with strangers,shit,the more i,m writing the angrier i,m getting.Children should not make journeys like this,there are too many cowardly animalistic bastards with no morality to take the chance she may make it.
    Noemi Álvarez Quillay we all failed you somehow little one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rip little girl now you can live free of harm ;/ this shit is so fucken sad ..I'm an american with heart js

    ReplyDelete
  8. So many people would take care of her,but that is wishful thinking and politically incorrect.And now she is gone,without a chance in life,what a world we do live in,beauty and disgraceful shame..

    Noemi Álvarez Quillay R.I.P. No more sadness...Except for us at your fate..

    ReplyDelete
  9. i think the writer has his facts wrong. the girl that hanged herself or got murdered is Nohemí Álvarez Astorga (8 yrs old from Durango) not Nohemí Álvarez Quiallay (12 yrs Ecuador)

    ReplyDelete
  10. @10;32. As the article said, her parents are not very talkative right now and are not answering any questions. Her grandmother said the father left right after Noemi was born and the wife joined him when the girl was only 3. I assume that they thought she was too young for such a journey at 3. As the story said it is not unusual in Central America to leave the young ones with grandparents while the parents work in US. They seemed to be doing ok financially now and maybe the coyote convinced the parents that at 12 years of age she was old enough and he could get her to NY. I dunno.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes but Ecuador is in South America nowhere near Central Am. Maybe that part was a misprint?

      Unless she went across the Isthmus, young miss had to pass through 4 countries to include the Darien to even begin the general trek from Nicaragua. Either way her parents had to know some extreme paramilitary groups for that trip; which is probably why they're so tight lipped.

      Poor young miss. Put on that journey alone. Obviously an Indigenous Amyra, I wonder if she spoke sufficient Spanish? And what terrified her at the shelter into suicide ( if it was really suicide)?

      Delete
  11. Damn! Everybody failed her. Who in their right mind sends a 12 year old on a 4,000 mile trek by herself? It's not as safe as when her parents crossed. Irresponsible!! In her 12 years her parents were never there. Not only that, they forced her to die alone. You're with the angels now sweetie, rest. D.E.P. Noemi Quiallay. -El Nemesis

    ReplyDelete
  12. why not charge the parents with CHILD ENDANGERMENT.... just a thought.... the child should have not been sent alone with the smugglers... supose you leave your minor child in MCDONALDS.., alone you will at least face CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, AND OR

    Child abandonment occurs when a parent, guardian, or person in charge of a child either deserts a child without any regard for the child's physical health, safety or welfare and with the intention of wholly abandoning the child, or in some instances, fails to provide necessary care for a child living under their roof.

    While child abandonment typically involves physical abandonment - such as leaving a child at a stranger's doorstep when no one is home -- it may also include extreme cases of emotional abandonment -- such as when a "work-a-holic" parent offers little or no physical contact or emotional support over long periods of time.

    Unfortunately, abandoned children (also called "foundlings") who do not get their needs met often grow up with low self-esteem, emotional dependency, helplessness, and other issues.

    A person charged with child abandonment may face felony or misdemeanor penalties and other consequences.

    What Constitutes Child Abandonment?
    The term "child abandonment" is broadly categorized and used to describe a variety of behaviors. Specific examples of child abandonment vary, but common actions that may lead to child abandonment charges may include:

    ■Leaving a child with another person without provision for the child's support and without meaningful communication with the child for a period of three months;
    ■Making only minimal efforts to support and communicate with a child
    ■Failing for a period of at least six months to maintain regular visitation with a child;
    ■Failed to participate in a suitable plan or program designed to reunite the parent or guardian with a child;
    ■Leaving an infant on a doorstep, in trash cans and dumpsters, and on the side of the road
    ■Being absent from the home for a period of time that created a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home
    ■Failing to respond to notice of child protective proceedings; or
    ■Being unwilling to provide care, support, or supervision for the child
    Child Abandonment Laws
    Child abandonment laws vary from state to state. Many states include child abandonment within its child abuse laws and vice versa, while some states have laws specifically targeting the act of child abandonment.

    Most states classify child abandonment as a felony, which may include situations where a parent or guardian physically abandons a child in any place with the intent of relinquishing all rights and responsibilities to the child.

    Other states classify child abandonment as a misdemeanor (with lesser penalties), including situations that involve non-physical acts of abandonment.

    In general, child abandonment occurs when:

    ■A parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of a child
    ■Without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of the child
    ■Knowing leaves a child (typically under the age of 13) without supervision by a responsible person (typically over the age of 14), or
    ■Fails to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support
    ■For a specified period of time
    In the criminal context, child abandonment is defined as physically abandoning a child, but may also include emotional abandonment such as failing to provide the necessary needs to a child. For example, in some states, a parent may be guilty of abandonment if they fail to provide necessary clothing, food, shelter or medical care for their child. In other states, however, parents are only punished for deserting a child with the intention to abandon.

    Mandatory Reporting Laws
    Because child abandonment is considered child abuse in some states, certain people may be required to report known or suspected cases of child abandonment to the proper authorities. Check your state's child abuse laws to see if you qualify as a "mandatory reporter."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She wasn't abandoned, she was left in the grandparents care.& what do US family laws have to do with Ecuador or Mexico?

      Anyhow, I believe the parents endangered her by having her make that journey.

      Delete
  13. Bla bla bla the governments don't care and never will. If they did, people would have jobs wherever the fuck they live, so they don't have to leave their children then send for them to make some insane trek across a continent. Show me a politician from any country and ill show you a piece of shit fucking over other people.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pongan dinero vamos a pelearles a todos los k andan pasandose d verga con la raza ya basta! Pobres chamacos...

    ReplyDelete
  15. My wifes dad came to the US when she was 3 from El Salvador. When she was 8 she came to Texas with her mom and 5 year old sister. It is insane to think that a child of any age should make that trip alone. Luckly my wife made it safely with no issues. But things have gotten so bad at the border that chances are she would have never made it safely even with her mom with her. The smugglers usually have no morals, but they are the ones with the guns. To sad.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is why we need to stop the flow of illegal immigration and find a safe and responsible way for people to migrate to the US from central and south american. Problem is the democrate party will never let that happen. They depend on the open border because they feel that it is a constant flow of future democrat voters. As long as they continue to hand out treats every now and then. The only problem is that the democrate party doesn't represent the values that we have. My father came to this country to work. And work he did. He is retired now. It just seems like today the democrates just want people to sign of for welfare and as soon as you take that free money it is hard to get off. 1 out of 4 americans recieve food allowance. And that number is growing. What happens when it becomes 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 4. Democrate party is made up of poor to lower middle class and the extreme rich. Guess when ones are the rulers and which ones are the dependents expected to vote for them. Its a shame what has happened to the political system here. TO bad they can just make all political parties illegal. Republicans have issues too, but at least they havn't turned against God. Yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your post as about as asinine as it can get! The story was about a child's dangerous journey and eventual death and you go on a political rant...how brilliant.

      Delete
  17. So sad,but it happens everyday a lil one alone in those border towns trying to get to their parients RIP Noemi.now you're in heaven in company of angels where you belong.

    ReplyDelete
  18. it's stories like this that make me loose faith in the human race.

    God bless this little angel, may she RIP..

    =.(.....

    ReplyDelete
  19. Father said:
    "We want to move on..."
    really??????? my mother lost her only son and never "Moved on"

    The actions of he and his wife are criminal. I think there must be better focus on the fact these parents are at the core of blame. I agree this is child endangerment at its least. The child was happy at the only home she has known for 12 years, selfishness has no place in parenthood.


    ReplyDelete
  20. If we would close the southern border these kids would not be traveling alone or with criminals. They could apply legally to join there parents if they are here legally.

    If you are here illegally my suggestion is go back home, we don't want you, we can't afford you, and of you put to big of a drain on US resources it could turn violent.

    ReplyDelete
  21. If these oppressed people would just grow the huevos grandes and a spine in their back needed to get rid of the idiots in their governments who create the problems that make life so unlivable down there, they could stay and have a great life!! So even though the death of this young girl is a terrible thing, it's hard for me to really feel bad about it, knowing what I do about the corruption and incompetence of the people who are supposed to be national leaders. Get rid of the scum at the top and then see how a nation can prosper under free market economics instead of capitalism (creating phony money out of thin air), socialism, communism and fascism.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "They could apply legally to join there parents if they are here legally.we don't want you, we can't afford you, and of you put to big of a drain on US resources it could turn violent"
    I can imagine the names you would be called if this story was about Zetas or CDG,but because it is about a lost little girl,many will not bother to read this story,and so,will not see your post..

    ReplyDelete
  23. Supposing the people of Ecuador fix their own country. We in the USA have enough trouble without extra mouths to feed or employ. Send the parents home. End of problem. Send them ALL home to fix their own countries. A flood of angry expats coming home could make a difference!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Why those people from ecuador were attracted to that cess-pit america is beyond my imagination and to leave all your children behind tells me they couldn't care less about them. They were attracted in their selfish greed, leaving their own children behind, both of them even while their children were babies. The parents are to blame.

    ReplyDelete
  25. How sad a story this is. And if adopting children from outisde of country weren't so plastered with RED TAPE many children would have a new home.

    Salva P., canadá

    ReplyDelete
  26. @ 9:30 PM

    Is it abandonment?

    She was left with her grandparents to be loved and cared for. The parents took a long and dangerous journey because of their love for their child. Living in poverty with all its ills. Little chance for a better life. Surrounded by hunger and idiocy. A heart ache for their baby girl.

    And you, 9:30 PM. Trying to apply American law to these hurting immigrants.

    "What Constitutes Child Abandonment?
    The term "child abandonment" is broadly categorized and used to describe a variety of behaviors. Specific examples of child abandonment vary, but common actions that may lead to child abandonment charges may include:

    ■Leaving a child with another person without provision for the child's support and without meaningful communication with the child for a period of three months;
    ■Making only minimal efforts to support and communicate with a child
    ■Failing for a period of at least six months to maintain regular visitation with a child;
    ■Failed to participate in a suitable plan or program designed to reunite the parent or guardian with a child;
    ■Leaving an infant on a doorstep, in trash cans and dumpsters, and on the side of the road
    ■Being absent from the home for a period of time that created a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home
    ■Failing to respond to notice of child protective proceedings; or
    ■Being unwilling to provide care, support, or supervision for the child
    Child Abandonment Laws
    Child abandonment laws vary from state to state. Many states include child abandonment within its child abuse laws and vice versa, while some states have laws specifically targeting the act of child abandonment."

    The parents did none of those things that you accuse them of.

    They are only guilty of love.

    Peace,

    ESB

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com