Now in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Allan Morales has spent nearly a year trying to get back to his family in Louisiana. Originally from Honduras, he worked in New Orleans for 14 years, roofing in the months after Hurricane Katrina then running his own body shop and detail service. He married and had two girls, now eight and four. Last spring, while driving with his wife in Kenner, a cop pulled him over for a traffic violation and asked for their papers. When the officer discovered they had none, he gave them a decision to make.
“One of you is coming with me,” he said. “Who’s it gonna be?”
If there’s a number that defines Morales these days, it’s the number one.
“Me,” he told the officer. “Take me.”
He spent 84 days in jail, then seven months in a detention facility near Alexandria, Virginia. In March he was deported back to Honduras. He fled north nine days later. He crossed into Mexico without a permit, which means he has no number that can carry him across the river, back to his daughters who ask, “Papa, why aren’t you here? Have you forgotten us?”