'I feel safe': One asylee reflects on her journey to the US

When gang violence escalated in her country she knew she had to flee.

HOUSTON, TEXAS -- The microwave beeps as Flor Marquez finishes heating up dinner. She’s just finished another shift at a nearby Burger King in Houston, Texas and is looking forward to sitting down to eat with her young son, Adrian.

This tranquil existence looks a lot different than their lives did a few years ago in El Salvador.

As gang violence escalated in her former neighborhood, Marquez and her husband knew that fleeing the country was a matter of life or death for their son.

"Overnight, we had to take off because [the gangs] started to threaten us and demand money," Marquez told ABC News. "If we didn’t pay them, we had to pay with our lives."

Unfortunately, the family only had enough money for one parent to make the journey north with Adrian. Marquez ultimately accompanied him. Her husband died three years later. She never saw him again.

She said the trek up north was challenging, but once they got to the U.S. and announced themselves as asylum-seekers, she said they were treated well.

"Thank God. God has been good and he’s put people in my path," she said. "I feel safe."

On May 10, 2018, they were granted asylum.

When asked what she wanted Americans to know about asylum-seekers like her, she said: "We don’t come here because we want to, but because of the situation in our countries- sometimes it’s violence, sometimes it’s poverty."

"I feel like it’s survival and our salvation is here," she added.

Watch the video above to learn more about Flor Marquez’s story as part of “The Briefing Room”’s special coverage of the Democratic debates in Houston.