I can’t believe I am standing before you – and I can say that I am a little nervous. I have never spoken before a group of people, and you are a very big group.
There are many things I have not yet done in my life. Not long ago I did not have much hope for my future or that any good things would happen to me. I suffered a lot in my home country and survived many bad things. Adults in my life hurt me in ways that no child should ever be hurt. And I had no one to help or protect me. I am told that in the United States, people who do the bad things they did to me would go to jail. But this is not true in my country. No one would do anything. My only escape was to come to the United States where I could be far away from the people who were hurting me and where I thought I would be safe.
When I made the decision to leave my country, I had no idea how far the United States was or how dangerous the trip would be. It was very, very hard. I ran out of food. And then I was kidnapped in Mexico, where bad people held me in a dark room with many others where they beat us and did not give us much food.
But I was finally able to get here. Immigration officials found me soon after I arrived in the United States. When they found me, they started my deportation process. They told me that I would have to go to court to tell the judge why they should let me stay in the United States. I didn’t know what “court” was. I have never seen one in my own country.