I started my fellowship with Cristosal on the 6th of September of 2021 and worked with the organization until the end of November of 2021. Cristosal is a human rights organization based in the northern region of Central America, a region that is made up of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Cristosal has offices in all three countries. I spent my time with Cristosal working out of their office in San Salvador, El Salvador as part of their Research and Investigations Team.
My work throughout my time at Cristosal covered several areas including translation and editing. However, the main portion of my work was time spent conducting research on current US immigration policy, interviewing returned migrants, and recording and writing migrant stories. In 2021, migrants from the northern region of Central America made up 41% of US Southwest border patrol encounters. I spent my time at Cristosal interviewing returned migrants from all three countries.
I was interviewing migrants that Cristosal had either worked with in the past, was currently working with, or who were scheduled to be working with Cristosal in the coming months. These migrants have, are, or will be working with Cristosal’s Protection Team, a team that provides victims of human rights violations with personalized care and assistance. The interviews I conducted as well as the subsequent recordings, transcriptions, and written stories served a dual purpose for Cristosal.
The first purpose was that in my interviews, I worked gathering information about both the returned migrants’ experiences throughout their migration journey and their time interacting with the US immigration system. This information and these stories along with the US immigration policy research that I conducted will be utilized by the Research and Investigations Team as well as the Communications Team in the organization’s social media. Cristosal will be doing a roll out campaign and publishing an article I wrote that highlights two migrants’ stories as well as the human rights abuses that are currently taking place within the US immigration system and the unjust policies that are creating these conditions.
The second use of these interviews was to give the returned migrants that Cristosal works with a space to share in detail about their experience integrating back into their communities after returning from the United States. This was an opportunity for Cristosal to gain information about economic, social, and security hardships specifically faced by recently returned migrants. This information will be used both by their Research and Investigations Team and by the Protections Team in order to inform their methods and the services that Cristosal provides.
My time at Cristosal was an incredible learning experience because of the great work that people are doing at the organization. It was also great because of the people themselves. This fellowship gave me the opportunity to work with some incredibly interesting, smart, hardworking, value-based individuals who never ceased to impress me. I feel so grateful for the relationships that I got to build, and for the community that I got to be a part of. I feel very grateful to the Center for Human Rights for providing me award from the Abe Osheroff and Gunnel Clark Endowed Fund to make this opportunity possible. The opportunity to work with Cristosal gave me great insight into human rights work in many forms, as the organization works to combat human rights abuses at both the direct service level and the structural change level. Living in El Salvador gave me the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in another culture and to build life-long friendships with individuals whom I would otherwise not have had the chance to meet. Thank you for making these last three months a reality.