Bartolo’s Story: A Young Immigrant


Bartolo sits in English language class at his high school in Pittsburgh in May 2016. He’s finishing his sophomore year of high school now. He’s been doing well in his classes and is on target to graduate in two years. 

Credit: Erika Beras/PRI
Public Radio International’s The World delves into the story of Bartolo, a Guatemalan teenager, who came to the United States when he was 16. From the rural community of San Mateo Ixtatán, Bartolo arrived in the US speaking only Chuj. Picked up by the border patrol as an unaccompanied minor upon entrance into the US, he was placed in a detention center. Later a cousin agreed to be his sponsor and he arrived in Pittsburgh, judges al ready starting his deportation case. Public Radio follows Bartolo’s story as he gets a potentially fatal heart murmur, applies to stay in the US legally using the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, moves into an orphanage and eventually with his foster mom- Casa San Jose’s own Monica Ruiz.

Once a week, his foster mother, Monica Ruiz, buys him an international calling card. He uses it to call his family back home in Guatemala. He gets updates on his siblings. Then, when he hangs up, he’s back to his new reality in Pittsburgh — far in every way from the poor, rural Guatemalan town where he spent the first 15 years of his life.

Today, “Bartolo is still waiting for his green card, which will give him legal permanent resident status in the US. He will turn 20 in July, but he can stay in the foster system until he turns 21. He’s gained weight and is still getting treatment for his health problems including the heart murmur.”

Read or listen to the full story, from Public Radio International.

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