It was hardly an irrational fear for a boy who, by the age of 7, had already been the target of multiple death threats. Valquiria and her husband had asked a group of drug dealers to stop using and selling drugs outside their home in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
Valquiria had threatened to call the police, hoping the men would be deterred enough to move elsewhere. It was, she knew, a pointless threat. At night, she would see fully uniformed police officers from her town smoking and congregating with the dealers— a familiar sight in a country rife with police corruption and state-sanctioned violence.
In November, after she threatened to alert the police in a neighboring town, the men painted death threats on the family’s home. More threats followed. Her husband and the couple’s 15-year-old daughter fled to the United States last winter and are in the process of seeking asylum.
Valquiria followed with the couple’s son in March, flying from Sao Paolo to Mexico and eventually making her way to the Paso del Norte international bridge and into El Paso.
Watching as a U.S. government car pulled away with B in it, Valquiria, an evangelical Christian, did the only thing she could think to do. She looked skyward and asked God to protect her boy.