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After a Grueling Journey North, a Boy and His Mother Fight to Start Over in New York

This summary about migrants finding their way in New York City was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

When 11-year-old Kenyon Madera Vazquez left his home in Venezuela for the U.S., he had a vision of what his new life would look like. Reality hasn’t lived up to that expectation yet. 

“I’d like for my mom to be able to work, she’d be able to buy me things, I could have my own room,” he told Documented’s Immigration and Enforcement Reporter via Report for America, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, in today’s story.

Kenyon tries to avoid remembering the jungle where he spent his 11th birthday: Kenyon and his mother, Yulimar Vazquez Rico, are living in a Bronx hotel shelter after making the journey north.

Kenyon recalled spending 10 to 12 hours walking each day, traveling with his mother across seven countries. At one point, the blisters on his feet became so painful that he couldn’t walk. There were moments of panic, like when the pair got lost off the path as it got dark.

“I don’t like to think about it a lot, because it was horrible for me,” said Kenyon, whose mother had tears running down her cheeks as her son recounted his journey.

Now, Kenyon has to figure out how to navigate his life in a new city with a new language, carrying the trauma of his journey with him every day. 

Troubles continue in New York: Kenyon and Rico arrived in New York City about two months ago after a 40 hour bus ride with other migrants from Texas to Washington D.C., and another bus journey to New York. 

At his hotel shelter, Kenyon shares a bed with his mother. He hasn’t made many friends because rules prohibit individuals from going into each others’ rooms. 

And it’s been hard for Rico to find other needed assistance. For weeks, she trudged through three boroughs every morning to a church in Bay Ridge where she could find hot meals, clothes, and a community of Venezuelans.

Rico says shelter social workers regularly check in. But they can’t offer legal guidance, leaving Rico unable to obtain work authorization or a lawyer for her immigration case.

Academic needs abound: At his school’s after school program, Kenyon says he has to rely on other children who speak both Spanish and English to translate for him. The food at the shelter and at school leaves him hungry and sometimes he falls asleep during school hours, he said.

Nicole Wallach, a staff attorney with the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children, says the newly arrived students who are migrants need knowledge, comfort and tools to understand how to thrive and function in the New York City school system.

Read the full story reported by Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio on Documented here.

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STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING 

New York

How to help migrants seeking asylum in New York City: As winter arrives, some migrants’ needs are going to shift. THE CITY spoke with people helping migrants to find out what they need. — Read more

UAlbany study: Increases in foreign-born population did not affect neighborhood crime: The project focused on Guyanese immigration to Schenectady. It kicked off during the Trump presidency when immigrant-crime relationship was a contentious public policy debate. — ABC News 10

New immigrants experience first Thanksgiving in New York City: Catholic Charities welcomed new immigrants with a holiday meal. There were also goodie bags to take home and entertainment from the People’s Theater Project. — ABC 7

Around the U.S. 

Indiana nonprofit helps immigrant families from storage unit: The storage unit serves as Grassroot Projects’ unofficial headquarters as the nonprofit seeks to reduce overhead expenses. — Indy Star

Two more buses carrying migrants from Texas arrived in Philadelphia: The buses brought 80 migrants to the 30th Street Station — the 3rd unscheduled and uncoordinated drop-off in 10 days. — The Philadelphia Inquirer (Paywall)

Haitians seek ways to survive amid widespread violence and disease: Haiti is in the middle of a humanitarian disaster. Gang warfare has deepened. Cholera is spreading. The Times’ bureau chief recently reported from Haiti, speaks about the crisis. — New York Times

Philadelphia immigrants brace for another Trump presidential campaign: From racist rhetoric to suggesting a registry to track Muslims, Trump has been a symbol of hostility to many of America’s immigrants. — The Philadelphia Inquirer (Paywall) 

Florida resident faces maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for staffing undocumented workers: Oleksandr Morgunov pleaded guilty to helping operate companies that facilitated the employment of individuals in hotels, bars and restaurants in Key West and other locations. — Staffing Industry Analysts

Washington D.C.

Biden admin. prepares for rocky end to Title 42: When asked about how the Homeland Security Department is preparing for the expulsion order’s end, an administration official referenced efforts to counter cartels and smuggling networks. — POLITICO

SEE MORE STORIES
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