Former illegal immigrant turned business owner defends migrant children

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- As the national immigration debate continues, a local Hispanic business owner says that many people don’t realize the circumstances of families who feel forced to send their kids north.

Hundreds of minors are being kept in holding centers in the United States after arriving without their parents over the past several months.

"I think they are desperate," Flor Torres, the owner of La Huasteca in Grand Rapids, says. "They are probably finding out that they can't even provide them a meal for their children at home. They are probably not able to send them to school."

Torres said that when she sees video of the children, her heart breaks knowing she was just like them.

Torres was born in Juarez, Mexico. Today, she is a mother of two, an American citizen, and a business owner.

When she came to the U.S., she didn't know she would never return to Mexico. "We thought we were just going to visit my aunt and come back, so that was kind of a shocker. We had to leave behind friends from school. Everything that you know, your culture, your food, and it's hard.

Torres said after arriving to the United States illegally, her parents took steps to become documented. Going to school in Michigan without understanding English was a huge hurdle to overcome.

Torres has been following the developments of hundreds of Hispanic children being housed by the federal government, while the U.S. attempts to come up with a solution after an influx of unaccompanied minors showing up in border cities.

People often assume illegal immigrants only take from society, Torres says. But with the right resources, the children at the center of the immigration debate can became doctors, lawyers and, like her, business owners.


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  • El Hefe

    All WE ask is, come legal.
    Jae is wrong, we don’t hate, we simply demand “you abide” by our laws. come legal and you’ll be welcomed, clime over the fence you’re a criminal.
    The illegal “crisis” is not ours, its Obama and the liberals.

    • Polish Princess

      Why not? She’s an American citizen. How do you know she’s not a better citizen than you? Perhaps you text while driving, or drive over the speed limit, cheat on your income tax by not declaring money you earned at a garage sale, and so on. Perhaps she does none of those things.

      • TruthHurts

        Because she chooses not to? Perhaps Tom is a better citizen that you (that sounds just as ridiculous when I say it). I know one thing: as a U.S. citizen he has the right to feel however he wants about anything, as well as peacefully express those feelings. That is to say without anyone (like yourself) suppressing his rights.

  • Mike DeRuiter

    The best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten. They are also some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met in my life and the most honest. They are also some of the best customers I’ve ever had… They’ve always paid and have never been late. I am proud to stand by them and call them my friends. They have added greatly to our local economy and diversity of our great city. Like TRUE Americans they would help me if I ever needed anything… They are the American dream.

  • Jane

    I will totally support these Americans! They did it the hard way and weren’t just handed citizenship! How many of you could pass the test for citizenship test? I agree with Mike D. Great food and I will continue to support this establishment. So disheartening to read these bias and stupid remarks!!

    • Mr C

      Oh now hold up a sec there. If you have not been through the immigration system the legal way, there is no way on earth you can say they’ve done it the hard way, no way!! I’ve been there, done that, got the green card and HUGE receipts to the (what used to be INS) to prove it!

  • Flor Torres

    Has the owner of La Huasteca Mexican Restaurant to all the comments above I thank you for giving me your feed back. Like my mother always said “Your mouth speaks of what your heart has inside.” “La voca habla lo que el corazon tiene”. And it gives me great sadness to know that the misery and pain of others can cause no sympathy for the voiceless children who are being treated unfairly and don’t have a say. I am a proud U.S. Citizen who does payroll and pays taxes every year. I am able to do so thanks to the sacrifice of my mother and father. I will continue to strive many obstacles and challenges that life may bring. My hopes for the future is to expand and provide more employment to hard working people. Their are some things in life that are worth the sacrifice and stopping is not one in my agenda. Thank you lord Jesus Christ for letting me be one of those voiceless children. To prove that with hard work and good work ethics nothing is impossible!

  • tracyd112

    What do they mean Former?she should have been sent back for breaking the law. She says alot of these kids are running because they dont even know where there next meal will come from. Hello What about the millions of Legal children here in America that are starving? Our Great Governor cut low income family’s
    food Stamps right when we had the worst winter ever and then with school out many children right here in Grand Rapids are going Hungry or living without electric or water because they could not afford there bills.I want to ask this QUESTION OF THIS Woman how many of her family did she bring here illegally?

  • rob

    So because 1 out of countless THOUSANDS can be labeled a success, we should ” roll the dice ” & assume the rest will START obeying our laws after they’ve been here awhile?

    • Faith Kent

      I’m with you Rob. Maybe instead of all the “successful” illegal stories, all these “news” outlets should give equal time to tell the stories of survivors(or families) of US citizens who have been assaulted, raped or killed by illegals!

  • Jim Rodery

    Wow. Just wow. We send money to the middle east to aid refugees and nobody bats an eye. They arrive on our doorstep…

  • DJ

    “But with the right resources, the children at the center of the immigration debate can became doctors, lawyers and, like her, business owners.” Resources sounds very much like our money, our taxes, our assistance programs. Why yes, we would love to put all your children to the front of the line while we struggle daily trying to figure out how we can send our own children to school. As citizens we do not get all the free higher education they demand we give to the illegals. Cannot see why anyone has a problem feeding your thousands of children while own own children are going hungry at school lunch, at home, through the summer. AND afford a mandatory healthcare system or get $$$$ taken in penalties for insurance you could not afford for your own family. BUT YES LETS GIVE IT ALL TO YOU.! WTH was I thinking?!?!?!

  • Essie

    The circumstances of the children who come here illegally are irrelevant. They are the same circumstances as the children who come here legally. When you dig deep into the reasons why people choose to come to America illegally instead of legally it always boils down to one thing: It is more convenient to come here illegally. That is it…convenience for them as individuals is held to trump US law. That right there is why the US law says illegals are to be immediately deported and barred from re-entering the US ever.

    Obey the law.
    Defend the law.
    Enforce the law.

    Illegals out now.

  • Al

    Do know about you, but Hate and Blame are not things I wish to include as American values. Helping others in need and fixing things are.

  • Tom

    Isn’t it fun to take a strident position? Isn’t it grand to strike that “Defender of Liberty” pose here on a message board? To stand fast, like those who came before you? Yes, holding up your hand and saying, “Sorry, kids! Not one more. We’re full!” has a long and infamous history here in our great land.
    One day, you’ll be able to bounce your grandchild on your knee, and regale that little scamp with the stories of the brave stands you took to keep “them” out. Like your grandpappy before you, and his before him, you can hold your head high with those who have toiled to keep out the Jews, or the Irish, or Italians, or Chinese, or any of the other immigrants that you find distasteful.
    “Yes my lad,” you’ll say to him, “back then we didn’t have to trouble ourselves with the facts of a situation, nor be burdened by compassion. No, back in those days, we acted without pausing a moment to think, as was our wont to do. It’s easier that way.”
    But being a bright lad, who will have the benefit of seeing it all as the past, free from the passions of the moment, he may ask you, “But grandpappy, what of the violence these children were fleeing? Didn’t you try to imagine how awful life must have been for parents to send their own children on such a desperate, dangerous journey? Didn’t you read about the gangs forcing children to join or be killed? Of young girls forced into prostitution? Of the thousands of miles these poor children travel, riding atop trains? To be preyed upon by gangs, to be subjected to abuse, rape, theft, or falling under the hurtling freight cars?”
    You’ll be able to shake your head in that sagely way grandparents do, and say, “Come now, my boy. You’ll learn that to find out too much about a situation will cloud your…moral clarity. Better to thoughtlessly follow whatever principles support your knee-jerk, nativist inclinations. Maybe if these kids didn’t like it so much at home, they’d have the good sense to be born here. Or maybe if they worked hard enough for the cartels, who we paid good, American dollars for their drugs, well, they’d save up enough from their selling on the streets, or thievery, or kidnapping rackets, and make their way north then, the right way.”
    Yeah, it’s real brave, and in the most infamous American tradition, to take a bold stand against a bunch of terrified, exhausted, desperate children. Children who have just finished a trek that I’d bet not one of you could make even one tenth of the way. Children who don’t want to steal your jobs, or lay around sucking off the government teat, or date your precious daughters, or whatever other ignorant martyr’s fantasy you use to justify your hate.
    They just want to be safe. They want to be with their families, they want to play with their friends. And if we, as the most prosperous nation on this planet, can’t show these children the slightest bit of compassion and comfort, then we don’t deserve what we have.

  • David

    First of all these kids can not support themselves so who is going to raise them, who is providing food, clothing and school supplies? I am sick of hearing how they need a better life, but there is not a better life without public assistance WELFARE paid by AMERICAN CITIZENS. I also have issues with people saying can you pass the citizen test I don’t have to I WAS BORN HERE. I don’t mind immigrants coming here legally with a way to support themselves

  • Bonita1550

    DONT HATE just because she(Flor Torrez) made it n did it big with her resturant .just because there frm a different country dosent make them a bad person ya it may be law breaking but u act like they want to be in there position.? American will never UNDERSTAND the struggles that they go and went threw being frm a different country (Mexico)you say it breaking the law but WHO DOSENT now a days u act like there goin to kill u or sum or do bad things …smh when all they want is HELP and FOOD ….people now a days are so selfish and careless it sad ….no matter where were frm or there frm DONT JUDGE wat makes YOU any better then THEM !! Smh people need to know how to have peace LOVE and HELP EVERYONE .
    And if they did bring more Illegals like yall say its nun of your CONCERN!!!!

    • David

      Great spelling, but it is our concern, it is our tax dollars being spent on kids that now have no one to raise them which means foster care and welfare.

  • Ronnie

    I’m actually fed up with hearing about this cause. We owe nothing to the parents who’ve sent their children to the U.S. without anything. There is no way I would tear my children from my protection and send my underage children thousands of miles away so I could never sleep peacefully again not knowing if they made it safely or were killed in the process. These children need to remain with their parents until their parents can find a solution to gain access into our great nation legally. My tax dollars have been spent on everything and everyone and I’m sick of it. I’m a federal government employee who has been furloughed, hasn’t received a raise or any type of pay increase in so many years I’ve stopped counting. How do you expect people to continue to give when there is simply nothing else to give. I have a family. I have children that have needs and medical that needs to be paid. We need to stop allowing everyone access into our country period. We have real issues in the U.S. ourselves that we need to address. We need to make better sanctions for our Vets. We need to ensure everyone has medical. We need to ensure the homeless and children are fed, clothed and protected. How can we continue this path we’re on when we don’t have the resources? The leaders in our country have strayed so far away from what’s right. Our government is WHACK!!!

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