Several Steps

Eusebio’s journey to Toronto took two years and spanned two continents and three countries. It “was a journey that took several steps” and was far from easy.

Eusebio left El Salvador in November 1984 with his brothers Abelino and Luis. Within 5 days they bussed across the El Salvador-Guatemala border, on a bridge of tires, and flew over the Guatemala-Mexico border, before crossing the Rio Grande into the USA.

The brothers’ trajectory was speedy at first. In late November they hired a human smuggler, called a coyote, to get them across the Mexico-US border, but his promises that they were “….safe, [with] nothing to worry about” didn’t hold up. Their car was pulled over barely past the border. All four were arrested by USA Immigration forces and the brothers were put in detention centre in Texas known as El Corralon. Their detention happened at the time when Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Agent, was killed in Mexico. His death forced the US government to have extra survelliance at the border.

Eusebio met detention with an amazing optimism. “[He] just held [his] head thinking, well, I’m going to get out of here no matter what.” Abelino got out after 1 month, Luis after 2, but Eusebio spent 3 months in detention because his bond was too high. Despite this, he “[doesn’t] remember being worried” at all. He finally got out in February 1985 and moved in with Abelino’s family in Galveston, Texas.

While Eusebio, Luis, and Abelino were staying in Texas, they got in contact with Augustin in Toronto who at the time was attending meetings at the Quaker House in Toronto. From there, Nancy Pocock, a pacifist, and Quaker connected them to a community agency in Houston.” They eagerly filled out their immigration applications to Canada. After six long months, they received a phone call: “…your application has been accepted. You have been accepted. This is your departure date. You’re going to arrive in Toronto. There will be someone at the airport waiting for you.”

The family arrived in Toronto on Friday, December 13, 1985. Finally, they had made it: Three brothers, Abelino’s wife, Paula, and their three children, Carlos, Alfredo, and Evelyn.

Brother Luis, Eusebio and brother Abelino (left to right), December 12, 1985, the day before they left Galveston, TX, for Toronto.” Courtesy of Eusebio Garcia.