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A minor's unaccompanied story

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BATON ROUGE - In February, a 17-year-old crossed the U.S. border illegally attempting to find her mother and escape the crime and violence at home in La Entrada, Copán.

"She suffered a lot of abuse from her father," the girl's mother, Ordina, said through a translator. "That was one of the reason, also, the gangs were always assaulting her."

The teenager was one of what is a growing number of young people who are crossing the border illegally each day.  This summer, they became known as "unaccompanied minors."  Their capture and placement in sponsor homes created a political war.  In Louisiana, more than 1,000 children are in the care of family members or others until an immigration hearing.

East Baton Rouge Parish has the third highest number of unaccompanied minors in Louisiana.  Ordina's daughter is one of them.

Catholic Charities has been helping some of the minors with legal representation. The organization is raising money to pay the defense of unaccompanied minors during their deportation hearings.

Ordina and her daughter, Yency, do not speak English.  They're getting help through the immigration process by an attorney hired by the diocese. Their hope is that they'll be able to stay in the country legally.

Ordina said her daughter was kidnapped trying to get to the United States, held for ransom and eventually escaped.

"When she was on her way, these men started calling me, threatening me, telling me to send them money," said Ordina through tears. "If I didn't send them money to release my daughter, they were going to kill her."

Ordina sent $9,000 to free her, but it wasn't enough.

"The good thing is that my daughter was able to escape," she said.

Once Yency got away, she found a ride and asked to be taken to immigration. Her driver told her to cross the Rio Grande River instead.

"I got a phone call from one of the Border Patrol Agents," said Ordina.

Yency was taken and processed. Ordina and her daughter were reunited in February in Baton Rouge. Yency is waiting for a judge to hear her case and decide if she will stay in the country with her mother, or be deported back to Copán.

Ordina, who fled Copán in 2009, left her six children there. Three of them, including Yency have crossed the border and made their way to Baton Rouge. Ordina said she was forced to leave to support her family. She's been living in Louisiana, working and sending money home. While she understands the United States is not her country, life in Copán is not an option.

"It's the crime that is forcing us to come here," she said. "The bad things that are happening in that country, forcing us to come here."

The family's attorney said his client has a strong case, but the harsh reality that she may be deported remains.

"I would hate for my children to go back to where I'm from, because there, on a daily basis, they just kill people," said Ordina.

Yency will appear before a judge December 2015.


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