They live in a rusty shack with no running water, hiding from the violence just outside their door, haunted by a question that won’t go away: Should they have listened to President Biden?

A year ago, Dayry Alexandra Cuauro and her 6-year-old daughter, Sarah, fled a crumbling Venezuela, setting off for the United States, carrying almost nothing. But they quickly lost each other, separated in a treacherous jungle known as the Darién Gap.

For three terrifying days, Ms. Cuauro heaved herself over muddy hills and plowed through rivers that rose to her chest, panicked that her child had drowned, been kidnapped or fallen to her death.

After they finally found each other, reunited in a squall of kisses and tears, Ms. Cuauro took the Biden administration’s message to heart: The journey north is incredibly dangerous. Don’t risk it. Stop, and apply to come to the United States the legal way.

Many of the migrants traveling alongside the Cuauros — like hundreds of thousands of others — simply ignored the president’s warning, dismissing it as a ploy to keep them at bay. They kept marching, crossed the border and quickly started building new lives in the United States, with jobs that pay in dollars and children in American schools.

Ms. Cuauro listened and dropped off the migrant trail. But nearly a year later, all she has gotten is an auto-reply: Her applications to enter the United States legally have been submitted. She refreshes the website constantly, obsessively, and every day it says the same thing: “Case received.” Only the numbers shift: 57 days. 197 days. 341 days.


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