No timeline yet for White House visit by Honduran amputees

Immigration attorney: ‘The White House knows they're here'


SAN ANTONIO – As of now, there is no timeline for the White House visit by 10 Honduran amputees who are on a mission to speak to President Obama.

"We're going to be working with the White House to arrange an appropriate time for the meeting, but we hope to be there in the coming weeks," said Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services.

Ryan said judging by what RAICES is hearing from supporters in Washington, "The White House knows that they're here. The White House is listening to their message."

The men were recently released from the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall.

Ryan said the federal government granted each one of them humanitarian paroles, and they will be applying for photo IDs in advance of their trip.

He said he's confident they will get their meeting with the president.

"This is a diplomatic mission of true human rights activists," Ryan said. "These men represent all immigrants who have sacrificed everything."

He said their bodies, missing arms or legs, "are witnesses to the danger of this journey."

They belong to an organization of others like themselves whose limbs were severed by a notorious train in Mexico known as "The Beast."

"We are the voice of the voiceless," said Benito Murillo, whose left leg and arm were severed in 2005 by "La Bestia."

He described jumping off when he learned Mexican immigration officers were in the area.

Murillo said he saw the train running over him before he managed to roll away.

He said when he tried to get up, he realized what had happened as he lay on the ground alone, bleeding profusely while awaiting rescue.

Jose Alfredo Corea Santos said he's taken on the quest, which some have ridiculed along the way, for the sake of his children.

Instead of falling in with violent gangs, he said, "Imagine if one of them became president of Honduras someday."    

He said they shouldn't have to leave their country, then suffer the same consequences.

"They could stay if they had health care, if they had jobs, if they had an education," he said.

Ryan said not only do they want to appeal to the president and others in power in Washington, RAICES also is laying the groundwork for a visit with Pope Francis while he's in the U.S. this fall.