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The Lesser of Two Evils


The devil you don’t know: on Central American violence and the United States’ stance on the undocumented

The neighborhood I live in is overwhelmingly made up of immigrants, most of them from Central America. I recently spoke with a Salvadoran from San Miguel who came to the United States with his family ten years ago.

“Before I left, recruiters with the National Guard asked me to join the police force,” he said. “At that time, the police were only allowed to carry a .38-caliber pistol.” He made a cap-gun motion with his hand. “The gangs were carrying machine guns. It didn’t sound like a good idea.” He opted not to enlist.

When I asked him about M.S.-13, he proceeded to anatomize the condition of victims he’d found after a gang attack while crossing a creek. I couldn’t possibly recount what he said. It’s something I can try, in my feeble way, to exorcise with a sketch pad, but it will haunt me always.

The drawings were made from photos of other attacks. They are hard to look at. I don’t know if a pencil can adequately abbreviate the horror of a face that’s been mutilated beyond recognition.

I see with perfect clarity why a family would risk crossing through the heavily patrolled desert of the Southwest border on foot.

The Trump Administration is invoking the Bible to justify turning the screw on immigrants and asylum seekers apprehended at the border, but these are devout Christians who have truly walked through the valley of the shadow of death and who fear no evil.

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