Just before I flew north from San Salvador to spend 5 weeks in the U.S. I learned that the husband of a new friend had been picked up by the U.S. ICE Border Patrol and is being held in a Texas detention facility. Last night she e-mailed to ask if I could buy and mail some clothing for him to wear on his flight back to El Salvador - apparently the clothes he'd been detained in were pretty awful, and the alternative is either to return home in a prison uniform or to have someone supply a going-home outfit.
Juan had trusted himself, and no doubt his and his family's hard-won cash, to a coyote who said he was a trustworthy Evangelical. Not so, apparently: the journey was brutal and he witnessed his "trustworthy" guide raping a woman. He was picked up almost immediately on the U.S. side of the border and whisked off to detention, where at least he's safe and my friend has been able to talk to him a couple of times.
I called the facility and found out that what I could send for a going-home outfit is quite specific: 1 pair pants, 1 shirt, 1 pair underpants, 1 pair socks. Shoes could also be sent, but apparently Juan has those. So today I went shopping for the clothing, which I'll send tomorrow. Challenging to buy clothes for someone you've never met, especially when it comes down to figuring out whether you think the guy would prefer boxers or briefs. An odd assignment for a nun, but I enjoyed it. And I picked boxers, on the simple grounds that they were less expensive.
So Juan will be able to take the long flight home in new, clean clothes, a scrap of dignity for a hard day.