Mother of migrant killed by SUV in Texas vows to fight for son's dream

·2-min read
Maria Cabarcas holds up her phone with what she believes is a photo of her son's body, in Brownsville, Texas on May 8, 2023
Maria Cabarcas holds up her phone with what she believes is a photo of her son's body, in Brownsville, Texas on May 8, 2023

As she waited in a migrant processing center in Texas this weekend, Maria Cabarcas says she felt a sudden sense of "desperation," and found herself crying for no reason.

"A lady prayed to me, she told me to give my son's life to God and I didn't understand why," she told her husband in a WhatsApp audio message that he later played for AFP.

The next day, she learned that her 23-year-old son, Enyerbeth -- who had been separated from her after they crossed the border together -- was among the eight people killed when an SUV plowed into a crowd at a bus stop in the city of Brownsville.

Police in the border city have charged the driver, 34-year-old George Alvarez, with manslaughter and aggravated assault after the incident, which also left 10 people injured -- some in critical condition.

The tragedy has added to tensions as the United States lifts its tough Covid-19 emergency immigration controls on Thursday, fuelling predictions of a spike in migration across the border.

Cabarcas first learned of her son's death when police returned her phone to her at the detention center near Eagle Pass, some six hours by bus from Brownsville, where she and her daughters were being processed.

The tragedy was all over social media -- and then a friend messaged her.

"They sent me pictures of him lying there and the friend says he found him there," Cabarcas told AFP.

With men and women sent to different detention centers, the 43-year-old and her two daughters were kept apart from her husband, Wilmer Colina, and Enyerbeth after the family -- who originally hail from Venezuela -- crossed the Rio Grande river last week.

They had planned to head on to Chicago, where they have relatives, together.

"He dreamed of buying me a house and buying a car to work," Cabarcas said of her son.

On Monday, the family attended an event at a local church that had been organized in a bid to ease tensions.

Sitting on a blue bench nearby, as Venezuelan music and singing washed over him, Colina found it difficult to speak of his stepson.

But Cabarcas said the family will go on.

"We will work and fight for the dream that my son was coming to fulfill, in his memory," she said.