Amidst the contemporary politically charged climate, it’s refreshing when an immigrant’s story can serve as a unifying catalyst for a community. There’s a lot to celebrate about Birmingham Carver (Ala.) High’s boys soccer team for precisely that reason.
As reported by AL.com, Carver’s surge to the state semifinals was sparked by senior Alan Garcia, who has only been in the United States for three years. He was smuggled across the Mexican border at age 15, eventually arrived in Alabama, learned English, joined the school’s soccer team and now is nearing graduation just days removed from an inspiring trip to the state soccer semifinals.
Garcia was smuggled into the U.S. alone, was captured in Texas, but then was allowed to reunite with family members elsewhere after he spent 15 days in a detention center. For Garcia, that meant meeting up with his mother in Birmingham.
The entire odyssey Garcia endured is worth reading at AL.com, but this section was both particularly poignant and memorable in representing just how extreme life can be for teenagers in gang-torn Central America:
Facing the choice of joining a gang or being killed by one, Garcia fled Honduras when he was 15 and paid human smugglers to bring him from El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico and to the U.S. border. Once there, Garcia was picked up by border patrol.
“From Honduras you pay to the person, then the person brings you to the border and then at the border there is another person who knows the way to get here,” Garcia said in a still-broken English he is close to mastering. “And I crossed the river, and after I crossed the river immigration got us.”
“But in all process, I’m glad immigration catch me. I’m glad immigration catch in all that process. Because now I’m a resident of here. I didn’t know it was a bad thing that immigration catch. I can say maybe it was the best thing that happened to my life.”
Garcia described witnessing a murder after one of the refugees failed to pay the human smugglers, or coyotes.
“The coyotes, it’s like this: If you don’t pay my money, I kill you,” said Garcia, while forming a pistol with his hand, pointing it and shooting. “Yeah, I saw it. One of them, his family couldn’t send the money and they killed him. We were in a house.”
To call Garcia’s existence harrowing is an understatement. To call his current achievements inspirational is an understatement as well. Make sure to read more about his journey and just what it represents right here. Trust us, it’s worth your time.