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Mexican Family Flees To El Paso To Escape Violence

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Mexican Family Flees To El Paso To Escape Violence

Latin America

Mexican Family Flees To El Paso To Escape Violence

Mexican Family Flees To El Paso To Escape Violence

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Tens of thousands of people have fled the drug cartel violence of Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico. One family fled to El Paso, Texas, to escape the unimaginable level of violence brought on by the drug trade in Mexico.

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

One particularly tense place is Ciudad Juarez. It's just across the border from El Paso and it's considered the epicenter of drug violence in Mexico.

Reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe talked with one man about his decision to flee Juarez for a new life in El Paso. He asked to be identified by only one name out of concern for relatives who are still in Mexico.

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE: Sitting in his small office after hours, Monarez(ph) sighs and clasp his hands together. Nineteen months ago he moved his wife and three teenagers away from their native Ciudad Juarez. He still has family there and is afraid to use his full name. Monarez recalls the terrifying night in November when his life changed.

MONAREZ: One day - middle of the night, we heard some noises. There was a guy tried to get into my house.

URIBE: Actually, there were two men. They were going to rob the house. Monarez fought them and was slashed with a knife. In his defense, he ended up killing one robber. Police later discovered the men were gang members with links to drug traffickers. Eventually, Monarez began receiving anonymous phone calls threatening his family.

MONAREZ: And that's when we decide to move here to El Paso.

URIBE: Monarez and his family are fortunate. He and his children were born in El Paso and are U.S. citizens. But their lives were in Mexico where Monarez made a good living as an attorney.

MONAREZ: And to be honest, I thought it was going to be easy, because I said well, I speak English. I live all my life in the border, so I know how everything from the both sides of the border. And the truth is that it's totally different.

URIBE: El Paso police estimate that as many as 30,000 Juarezans have moved to El Paso. Juarez demographers estimate that up to 100,000 people have left the city altogether, though they admit there are no precise numbers.

Monarez and his family miss Juarez. After they moved away, they would occasionally go back for quick visits. On one of those visits, his 12-year-old daughter was nearly kidnapped.

MONAREZ: When that happened to my daughter, she cant sleep, like, for almost two months.

URIBE: Then, in January, Monarez's 18-year-old son was visiting friends in Juarez. On their way back from a party, the teens were stopped by the army which patrols the streets there. During a routine search, Monarez's son refused to hand over his cell phone to a soldier who then beat him with his rifle. Monarez recalls his son's injuries.

MONAREZ: He hit his head, his face; he broke his nose, the left part of his face, his back. He almost killed him.

URIBE: Adjusting to life in El Paso has been difficult. The cost of living is higher. Monarez isn't licensed in American law and has struggled to find a job. The family's social life is weak.

MONAREZ: There's a lot of times that I went to my house, but before I get to my house, I stop in a park, in the car, and I cry. I cry because it's hard.

URIBE: Despite his family's ordeal, Monarez still has hope for a peaceful future in Mexico. His children will probably stay in the United States. But as for him and his wife, he says, one day we'll go back.

For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe in El Paso.

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AMOS: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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