“Seeking asylum has become nearly as difficult as getting here in the first place.”
Five months ago, I arrived in New York City from Venezuela. Coming here was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. I love my country, but, for me staying there would’ve meant facing the very real threat of being killed.
In Venezuela, I owned a fast food business and was also a college student majoring in environmental management. I wanted to fight for a better future, and I decided to raise my voice against our current government in protest. Because of this, my life was turned upside-down. I was threatened with severe punishments and death, forcing me to make the decision to leave my home. I left behind everything I had known and loved: my relatives, my land, my culture, and my belongings.
To get to the United States, I had to trek for days through the Darien Gap, a massive rainforest that had no discernable roads. Every day was terrifying as we were forced to hike through mud-filled rocky areas, faced the possibility of encountering wild animals, and many other deadly situations. I also felt terrified at the thought of being kidnapped, abused, and even killed in this lawless region filled with criminal activity. After passing through this area, we crossed Central America and Mexico.