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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Gloria Trejo: living as an asylum seeker in the United States



Gloria Trejo, writer, poet, teacher, mother and asylum seeker from Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. This is a personal story from a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan who came to the United States in 2012 with her son fleeing from violence and seeking asylum. 

The months before she had to enter the United States, Trejo’s son, Javier, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, was kidnapped. It was an organized crime and she lost everything in the efforts of trying to get her son back.

“They took everything away from me. My home, they took it all, my business, everything. When an organized crime takes over a family or a person they take it all.”

Trejo and her son have been in the process of obtaining asylum for the last six years. Under this status she does not qualify for a work permit or a driver’s license. 

“I am unable to go out of the country, obtain a drivers license, build a business, or be under a payroll.”

For Trejo, more than anything she would like to be contributing to her community in a financial way but due to the systems in place she cannot. 

“Because of my status I cannot work. I would like to work like anyone else – and I think it makes practical sense because now you work and produce and pay taxes like anyone else – which I think it’s the most practical thing – the most logical.” 

Trejo has three children, and one her children is an American Citizen and able to support her financially. She also is able to live with her sister who owns her own home on the west side of the Grand Rapids. 

In spite of the circumstances, Trejo finds herself in she is glad to be alive and living in a country where she doesn’t have to face any threat to her own life. 

“No matter the barriers and the frustrating circumstances I have to endure I am happy to be in this country because at least I have this one option and I am alive and while I am a live there is hope.” 

For WGVU News Michelle Jokisch Polo

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