Their long, furry friendship is about to come to an end, all because of the crisis at the southern border.
A migrant who befriended a squirrel in his native Venezuela, raising the rodent after almost stepping on the creature as a baby, is expected to be separated from his bushy-tailed companion as he seeks asylum in the United States.
The man, known only as Yeison, named the squirrel NIko.
The couple has been inseparable, even during the dangerous journey from Venezuela to the border with the United States. On the way, Niko rides in Yeison’s backpack.
“I don’t want him to separate from me, because I know we would be sad. I’m sure of that,” Yeison, 23, said. “And if she doesn’t get sick, I hope she’s happy. And may she never forget my face.”
Venezuelan migrant Yeison and his beloved squirrel NikoAP
Desperate measures are now being taken to allow Niko to enter the United States.AP
However, that separation seems increasingly likely. Yeison secured a coveted appointment Saturday to appear at the border and formally request asylum. Animals are generally not allowed through.
“It would be practically like starting from scratch, without Niko,” lamented Yeison.
However, not all hope is lost for Yeison and Niko. Helping Them Succeed, a local non-governmental organization, said she was working with a veterinarian to make sure Niko had received all the necessary vaccinations.
Niko is on Yeison’s shoulders in his tent in a migrant camp. AP
“There is a connection between him and the squirrel, so much so that he preferred to bring it with him than leave the squirrel with his family in Venezuela and face the dangers that come with the migratory journey. They gave each other value,” said Ayudiendoles A Triunfar, director Gladys Cañas.
During President Biden’s term, migrants have arrived at the US border in record numbers. Since 2021, a staggering 3.8 million have found their way inside.
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