Destiny's Children: A Legacy of War and Gangs

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Edgar’s story, part 1

Edgar’s mother sent him back to El Salvador from Los Angeles when he was fourteen. She was worried that he would follow in his older brothers’ footsteps and join a gang.

After his brother Jose was murdered in Los Angeles Edgar reacted by taking his dead brother’s gang name “Shy Boy.” Shortly after Jose’s body was sent for burial in El Salvador, Edgar tattooed his mother’s name Ana and a tombstone with the name “Shy Boy” on his back. He began hanging out in the gang crash pads in San Salvador that have become his home.

Jose was 9 years old when he arrived in California, a refugee child from the civil war in El Salvador.

In Los Angeles Ana Bolaños and her sister-in-law fret about fresh uncertainties the new US immigration law brings. In the past Ana could sneak back over the border to see her son Edgar in El Salvador. But now the INS doesn’t only deport those entering illegally. Those who re-enter illegally, as Ana must, could face prison. She would lose her chances at US citizenship. She worries about what would become of her American daughter Rocio without her mother. Rocio, who always listens intently to adult conversations, fears that uniformed men from the immigration service might come in the night and take her mother away from her.

Edgar’s second-grade class picture, taken the year he arrived in the US.

Edgar’s girlfriend “Little Crazy” also used to live in Los Angeles. Her mom sent her to El Salvador thinking it would keep her safe from gangs.

Rocio’s father plays in a mariachi band. She used to be sad when her brothers argued with her dad. Now she wishes her family could all be together.

Edgar “Shy Boy” has no children of his own. He says: “I want a family of my own. First I need a job, a house. I need a future.”

The separation in their family is especially hard on Ana and Rocio. Ana writes to her son Edgar often, but he seldom writes back. Ana’s husband Gabriel tries to comfort her.