South African Refugee in San Benito Shelter Shares Story

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SAN BENITO – A native from southern Africa shared his story to help prove immigration has more than one face.

The man said there are many reasons people risk their lives to come to the U.S. He requested to keep his identity hidden for his own safety. He said the decision to leave his country wasn’t really a choice.

"Chris" came from Swaziland, a country located in southern Africa. He left everything behind to find hope and a new beginning.

“Actually, in my country, no one is allowed to voice out anything. What they say you have to do it. Anything. They send police and soldiers to come and beat you up,” he said.

"Chris" said he did what he could to bring human rights to his country.  He claimed the government sent people to follow him.

“They found out that I was also involved. They started coming for me. It got so much serious in a way that I was being chased,” he said. “They came to my house. One was banging on my door over the kitchen. I had to come out through a window, and I started running.”

"Chris" told us he was threatened on behalf of the monarchy. He also claimed the government ruined his successful and thriving business. He was accused of disrespecting the king.

After several aggressions, his family was threatened leaving him with no choice. "Chris" used the last of the money he had in savings to buy a ticket to the U.S.

“When I learned there is a country like America, which has human rights, I started following up. What are these human rights? What are they talking about?” he said.

"Chris" said getting to the U.S. had its own challenges. He said he found himself in jail in Philadelphia, even though he had a visa.

He said he could not find it in his heart to lie to authorities and told them he was requesting asylum.

“I felt like a king inside jail. Can you believe that? I knew one thing. I knew I could sleep, and no one was chasing me,” he said.

"Chris" worked with a pro bono attorney to win his case. The same attorney, a Rio Grande Valley native, advised him to go to La Posada Providencia.

He said the center provides programs and courses that help immigrants land on their feet.

“They provide school, which covers English and the history of America,” he said. “They give that person a chance to discover and remember that he is a human being.”

Alma Rock, the center’s media coordinator, said they have helped 8,900 people from more than 80 countries.

"Chris" said he hopes his story can give a voice to another side of immigration. He wants to let people know pockets of oppression and abuse extend to even the smallest corners of the world.


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