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Jennifer Lawson-Perez

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Save Me Salvador
by Jennifer Lawson-Perez   

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Books by Jennifer Lawson-Perez
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In February of 2010, over thirty missing refugees from throughout the world were located by a civil rights delegation from Panama. They were hidden in the bowels of the Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria detention center in Managua. All were held incommunicado and instructed to pay bribes if they ever wanted freedom again. My husband was one of those prisoners, there nine days after his deportation from the U.S. for applying for asylum, and fleeing his country for safety.

Save Me Salvador is a story of a refugee husband's escape, survival, and fight to reunite with his wife. A drug cartel attempts to force this adoring husband to join while living in Mexico, a man who left a gang a long time ago. The couple flees Mexico and faces a new fight with Homeland Security's flawed immigration system as they offer information in exchange for asylum, only to watch I.C.E. agents lie and deport this man three years later. He flees El Salvador, where Mara Salvatrucha visits his mother's home to murder him. Finally, he escapes Nicaragua. Save Me Salvador narrates a family's true story of gross injustice.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counted 8,400,000 refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2006.  In the U.S. this figure has become a hot button in debating illegal immigration, with concerned citizens weighing in on U.S. Immigration Reform and becoming potential readers.  As an immigration rights activist, I have seen the public interest in this subject directed at me after sharing our story.  The Southern Poverty Law Center lists 932 hate groups inside the U.S. of which focus on immigrants. 


This morning I feel as small as a flea in the world. As if Ernie's and my existence is tied to some greater evil where a million offspring wait in the wings to invade the U.S. borders, and threaten the well-being of all the 'good Americans.'

It's like a play unfolding: In Act one, Ernie and I are the culprits setting off this chain of events. He directs his conductor's wand, and a million cockroaches slowly proceed across the border to the tragic wailing oboe in Marcia Funebre - A dagio assai.

They make their way well inside the line of demarcation, and the assembly breaks apart, taking the tragic tale to the four corners of the country. The play ends. I'm staring at myself in the rear view mirror.

I dust my cheeks with rouge, thinking how old I look seated in the parking lot of this huge compound of prison buildings. A white truck pulls up behind me and the guard inside scrutinizes me with a shriveled expression. I wink at him with the condescension I feel for the entire immigration system.

He slides away and I apply mascara. A solitary cockroach has climbed in the back of his truck. I've done my thing.

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