BRADENTON -- Every single day, Christopher peers out the window of his family's Bradenton home in search of the postal carrier. He's been doing this since Feb. 4, when he appeared before an immigration judge in Miami.
As soon as letters are dumped in the mailbox, the 12-year-old walks out to retrieve them.
"I look for things that are mine, that have my name or Mr. Goldman's," Christopher said, referring to his immigration attorney Thomas Goldman of Goldman & Loughlin, PLLC. "Stuff like that."
The Honduran-born boy, who has asked to be called Christopher for the Bradenton Herald's ongoing "Finding Freedom in Bradenton" series, has been waiting to hear from immigration officials since his asylum interview four months ago.
"I'm afraid that they're going to deport me," the boy said.
As he sat on a bench in his backyard last Thursday, Christopher said he'll never stop checking the mailbox.
July 16 marks one year since Christopher's lawyer filed an asylum application for the the boy with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. With asylum, Christopher could apply for a green card after living in the United States for a year, which he has already done, enabling him to live and eventually work in the United States. A green card -- which can be renewed every 10 years -- would also allow him to travel out of the country, if he desired.
In 2013, Christopher took the treacherous journey into the U.S. with one goal -- to reunite with his parents in Bradenton after years apart.
Before Christopher was born, his father, who has asked to be called Joel, left the family's small pueblo of San Juancito for the U.S. His mother followed when he was just 1 1/2. Both were in search of the "American Dream," with its promises of upward social mobility through hard work.
But time passed, and Christopher remained in Honduras with his maternal grandmother. At age 9, he began being tormented by a gang of older boys who associated themselves with Mara Salvatrucha -- aka MS-13 -- a widespread criminal gang with roots in Los Angeles and influences in Central America, Mexico and even Canada.
Though he spoke to his father regularly through phone calls and Skype sessions, Christopher never brought up the abuse that left him with stab wounds on his leg and head. Nor did he tell his mother.
Years passed and they still had not sent for him. One day, he set off for the United States with a close family friend he called Tia -- "Aunt" in Spanish. At the border, Christopher and his Tia were caught by border officials and taken to a detention center in Houston. His aunt was eventually deported.
A month later, Christopher was reunited with his parents in Bradenton.
It's been nearly two years since Christopher's journey to America -- plenty of time for him to get acquainted with this new world.
Also, plenty of time to grow closer to his father. Christopher said he helps him with yard work and lifting things.
"We have fun together," Christopher said.
Joel, who sat beside his son on the bench, smiled down at him.
"I've been very happy," Joel said about having his three sons together with him. "I've enjoyed them more."
Joel has been following the latest news surrounding immigration in the United States.
Last week in a statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said he's "reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children."
Johnson said that, "once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued."
According to Johnson, the United States faced an unprecedented spike in illegal migration from Central America last summer. As a result, detention capacity was increased.
"Yes, I'm in favor of what they're doing with regard to the union of families," Joel said of the Johnson's announcement. "I know that children who come from there, come for a reason."
According to the family's immigration lawyer, immigration rights advocates will be watching the situation closely.
"The advocates are going to continue watching and seeing if he's (Johnson) going to do what he said," Goldman said.
The lawyer added that the federal government required unreasonable bonds for families detained.
"These people are coming from nothing anyway. Many times they didn't have any money and, to get across the border, they have to pay members of the drug cartel many times and they spend all their money on that," Goldman said. "Once they get over here, they have very little resources and are relying on family members to provide money to help them with their cases -- even if they do have lawyers."
Now that he's on summer break, Christopher has been spending a lot of time with his two younger brothers. They play soccer in the backyard and visit the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Hide-and-seek is a favorite game of theirs. Christopher also spends time sketching -- he loves art.
In between all that, he remains by the window, in search of the mailman.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.