El Salvador Skateboarders Face Gangs And Immigration Agents On Voyage To U.S.
Rolling Stone recently did a feature on a group of El Salvador skateboarders that embarked on a 2,000-mile journey through Central America and Mexico to the United States. Kelvin, Eliseo, Kevin, and Rene are a group of friends that share a love and passion for skateboarding. The sport has given them a purpose. Skateboarding has helped them steer clear of gang violence and the other harsh realities on the streets of Central America. Wanting a safer place to skate, the group embarked on a skateboarding journey to where it all began – Los Angeles.
The patinetos have discovered an unlikely advantage, though: attention-grabbing ollies and kick flips can be a form of camouflage. – Rolling Stone magazine
They began their journey from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. The group left in the dead of night and started their journey which took them through El Salvador, Guatemala, and South Mexico. The group recognized that skateboarding had helped them get past immigration agents and federal authorities. These four young men did not have the same look as most immigrants crossing borders. After weeks on their journey Eliseo and Kevin grew tired of the slow pace skating. They hopped on a train and headed north to the next city only to be apprehended by Mexican Immigration Officials and sent back home.
The group recognized that skateboarding had helped them get past immigration agents and federal authorities. These four young men did not have the same look as most immigrants crossing borders
Kelvin and Rene, the remaining two continued their skate journey one push at a time. After two thousand miles, the two made it to the U.S. border, their biggest obstacle yet. Using a coyote (immigrant smuggler) the two and their families paid for them to get across the border. Having made it into the United States, the toughest challenge still awaited them. At an unknown location, the two remain at a halfway house with twenty other immigrants awaiting their turn to be smuggled through local checkpoints. Far from home, the two patiently await their turn to embark on the final leg of their journey.
“Using skateboarding to cross borders is really radical,” Kelvin says. “When skateboarding started, they broke the rules because they were prohibited from skating. There are some that still think that skating is bad. But it’s better to be on a skateboard, breaking barriers, breaking the law because, in reality, the world shouldn’t have borders.”