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A Sunday at the Border

A Sunday at the Border

A Sunday at the Border
June 06
11:11 2019

Haga » Click Aquí « para LEER esta Historia en Español

Chronicle by Morgan Smith


It is 7 AM, Sunday morning, May 19 and I’m on the narrow dirt road that flanks the huge border wall between Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. El Paso and Juárez are just a few miles to the east. The first surprise is that the wall just ends. As you approach Monte Cristo Rey, there is a huge gap through which anyone can pass.  I wonder, why build such a huge, expensive wall and then have it end so that it is useless? Three weeks earlier we met members of the militia who had an encampment here. They have since been ordered to leave. Now, however, there is much more evidence that migrants have been crossing here: Empty water bottles, abandoned clothing.


Suddenly, I see a small group of migrants running towards me. As they get closer, I call out to them. “Where are you going?” They stop by my car and I continue to call out to them, but they don’t seem to understand, even though I am speaking Spanish to them. Maybe they are Indians and have their own dialect. They look exhausted, confused and frightened. Then they begin to run again and continue around the base of the mountain. I drive into Sunland Park and try to spot them again with no luck. On the way, I see a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) vehicle but it’s hidden in the brush along a creek bed with no visibility of the wall.


The solution, according to Father Calvillo

Two hours later, we are at La Casa del Migrante on the other end of Juárez, meeting with its leader, the dynamic Padre Javier Calvillo. There is only one way this terrible problem will be solved, he tells us. The three parties -Mexico, the United States, and the three Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador- must come up with a plan to work together. Conditions in those three countries -the terrible violence, corruption, drug dealing and lack of jobs- must change. Mexico and the United States must help. Padre Javier says that El Salvador will have an impressive new president -Nayib Bukele, 37- on June 1 and Javier is impressed with him. However, he sees little confidence in the leadership of Guatemala and Honduras.


In the meantime, La Casa is receiving even more migrants. First, there are those who have come north to seek asylum in the US. They are waiting at La Casa for their first interviews with the CBP. Most of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Then, each week, he is receiving between 100 and 280 people who have been deported. They can stay for one or two days while waiting for funds from their families for the return trip to their homes further south.

In addition, 1,600 migrants have completed their initial CBP interviews and have been returned to Juárez to await their judicial hearings, a process that may take months. At the moment, they are scattered around the city.


Most of the migrants at La Casa are women and children. They are the focus of Padre Javier, they are the most needy. He has a staggering job in a political climate where the rules seem to change daily. He is one of the many heroes on the Mexican side who are fighting for the survival of these thousands of migrants.


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