I am currently in Brownsville Texas with a multi-faith clergy delegation, two state lawmakers, and the leaders of PASO and Mano a Mano. Yesterday, we crossed the border where over a thousand migrants seeking asylum are camped out in tents. The tents are pushed right up against each other because there is so little space between the border and the city of Matamoros, which is known to be very dangerous. It was 93 degrees Farenheit yesterday afternoon.
What is most striking are the hundreds of children, some playing with such beautiful sparks in their eyes and others who lay listless in the arms. I have enough facility with Spanish that I introduced myself to several different families. I met many people from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala. I met one family from Guerrero, Mexico. All of the families had the same story of fleeing violence in their community—all of them at a loss of where to find safety other than seeking asylum in the United States.
I spoke at length with Mario, a father with a 4 year old and a 1 year old. I was struck how he repeatedly kissed his four year old. And when he was talking to me, his son would kiss him with an affection that communicated to me that what they have is each other. His wife and oldest daughter are in Dallas, where his wife is working as a cleaning lady. He has not seen her for six months, but he does intermittently call her when he is able to use someone’s cell phone. I gave him my phone to call her—it was a Dallas number. He talked for 12 minutes and then gave me back the phone extraordinarily appreciative.
I prayed with several different people, all of whom came to tears. Today I will go across the border again and talk to more people and help Mario with filling out papers online he needs for asylum. However, the current policies and procedures of the “Migrant Protection Protocols” are living up to the name that everyone has for them “Remain in Mexico.” Unless the United States government changes the policies, I don’t have any hope that Mario and kids will be able to join his wife and older daughter. The most I can offer him is that there are people like me who know his story and will do what we can to change the laws.
Early this afternoon, our clergy delegation that includes two rabbis, two UU ministers, four Missionary Baptist ministers, a Presbyterian minister and an Episcopalian priest, we will hold a prayer service for the people who are migrants there and then in the late afternoon, on U.S. soil, we will hold a vigil and demonstration with the local immigration rights leaders to put pressure on U.S. Representative Fileman Vela (D) to intervene and stop returning seekers of asylum to such a crowded area on the outskirts of one of the dangerous cities and regions in the world.
Please keep me and my colleagues in your thoughts and prayers. And please keep the many migrants in your thoughts and prayers–and act on them!