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Owner of Ballard restaurant moved to US from Honduras: ‘It’s really bad people there’

SEATTLE -- At the heart of a political back-and-forth over separating families is what many would call a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people are fleeing three main countries from Central America: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

At Tropicos Breeze in Ballard, you can get a plate of Honduran cuisine and a drink that takes you to the beaches of Honduras. However, Central America is being ripped apart by storms, like Hurricane Ernesto back in 2012, by political corruption and by growing cartel violence.

“Yeah, it’s really sad. I’m really sad for my people,” said Honduras native Jorge Castellanos.

Thousands are heading for the U.S.-Mexico border, leaving everything they know and love behind for the hope of a better life.

“It’s really bad people there and that’s why a lot of people move to USA,” said Castellanos.

Castellanos owns Tropicos Breeze in Ballard. He’s been in the U.S. since 1998, fleeing the same problems that haven’t gotten any better.

“You can’t open any business there because you need to pay taxes to the Amara 13 or you need to pay Amara 18 or you need to pay another group after you pay the government. It’s really hard to open a business there,” said Castellanos.

But in the U.S., Jorge and his family are thriving. He’s the success story so many of the families heading to the southern border hope to achieve, including the women taken into custody at the border and placed in the SeaTac Federal Detention Center.

Northwest Immigrants Rights Project Executive Director Jorge Baron says the families fleeing are largely women and kids who will do anything for a chance at security.

“She’d seen other girls in the neighborhood being threatened with sexual assault, or sexually assaulted, and some of them had been killed, and she was very scared some of that was going to happen. That’s why they were coming to seek protection here,” Baron said, recounting the conversation he had with one of the women in the SeaTac prison.

“There had been threats and there had been specific incidents that led them to flee,” said Baron.

Fleeing and coming to this country built by slave labor and immigration. Castellanos knows firsthand it’s worth it.

“When your family, they have a nice place to live, many parks, security, there’s a difference there,” said Castellanos.

Castellanos is here legally under Temporary Protective Status, which is for people from affected countries like Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador. That’s why the consulate office here in Seattle is so busy because TPS is about to end, affecting thousands of Seattle immigrants.

“I want to stay here, I don’t want to go back,” said Castellanos.

Jorge and thousands of others are in the immigration process hoping to get permanent residency or citizenship while thousands more head to our southern border.