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Stories Of Children Coming To American Bring Memories To Green Country Family

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The Orellana family is living the American dream in Oklahoma. The Orellana family is living the American dream in Oklahoma.
Violence, extortion and poverty are forcing people to send their children on dangerous journeys to cross the border in hopes escaping corruption. Violence, extortion and poverty are forcing people to send their children on dangerous journeys to cross the border in hopes escaping corruption.
It costs money to send children with border smugglers, usually all the money a family has. It costs money to send children with border smugglers, usually all the money a family has.
JENKS, Oklahoma -

The stories some children have of making it to America are harrowing. They're especially difficult to hear for those who escaped those countries to start a new life in the U.S. The stories are bringing back memories for one couple who recently became American citizens.

They've been in Oklahoma for more than a decade now. They came here legally on a work visa and while they don't advocate crossing the border illegally, they understand why it's happening.

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The Orellana family is living the American dream in Oklahoma.

“I was very attracted to coming here because we could raise our way of living. It's not that we were suffering down there,” said Alfonso Orellana, originally from Guatemala.

A job brought Alfonso and Lesley to Jenks from Guatemala 14 years ago, the perfect place for the couple to raise their two children.

“We always talk to them about how blessed they are,” Alfonso said.

Their feet are firmly planted in Green Country, but a big piece of their hearts will always be in the country where they were born and raised, the country where their entire family still lives.

“They feel better that we're here than down there because of the situation they're living down there,” said Alfonso.

They said violence, extortion and poverty are forcing people to send their children on dangerous journeys to cross the border in hopes escaping corruption.

“They're desperate. They'd rather do that than staying back home,” Lesley said.

Alfonso said, “We have heard of situations, almost first hand, very close to our families, either kidnappings or even people that are actually killed or hurt in gunfire because somebody failed to pay the extortion money.”

And it costs money to send children with border smugglers, usually all the money a family has, and there are no guarantees they'll make it to the U.S. or even survive the trip.

If they do make it, however, it's worth that high price.

“They are absolutely in better hands. They are in the best, the safest place in a long time,” said Alfonso.

The couple said a lot of families are tricked into believing it's simple to cross the border and get permission to stay.

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