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ABC 7’s Project Immigration revealed that more immigrants are warning family members not to come to the U.S. because of the sagging economy.Along a rural road in western El Salvador, ABC 7’s Andrea McCarren spotted a young boy in a red shirt harvesting sugar cane. His name was Jonathan and he was 12-years-old. Like most children his age, Jonathan had a dream, a dream to travel to the United States and work.
For many Central Americans, the dream to work in the U.S. is fading quick.
“What I want to say to all the people from El Salvador or other countries, the situation in this country is not easy. It’s very difficult and it’s not worth it to risk your life,” said day laborer Jose Manuel Munoz through a translator.
From suburban Washington to rural El Salvador, ABC 7 heard from many immigrants that they are warning their friends and relatives to not come to America. “I say to the rest, this is not a good time to come to the United States. If you are okay, over there, in El Salvador, stay there,” said Rosa Nativi.
Carlos Diaz’ sister lives in Manassas. “She has told me that a lot of people is afraid to get out of their houses, to walk in the streets, because they’re getting caught by immigration department and they’re getting deported,” he said.
“If somebody pays me one million dollars, I will never do it again. Not ever,” said a man who wanted to be known as “Carlos”.
The 57-year-old day laborer left his hometown of Ilopango, El Salvador and turned to a coyote, or human smuggler, for help. He was desperate to reunite with his wife of more than 30 years who was already in Maryland, working as a housekeeper.
“I paid $7,500 and after this moment, I don’t think I have earned that money in the three years I have been here,” said “Carlos”.
His illegal journey to the U.S. lasted a month and nearly cost him his life. “The most terrible thing is you don’t know if you’re going to make it,” said “Carlos”.
In the end, with a mangled leg, he was literally carried across the border. For now, he sits and waits for work that rarely comes. Like many day laborers, Carlos wants to go home.
Federal law actually allows illegal immigrants to leave the U.S. voluntarily but it must be at their own expense.