by Bill Branch and Beth Newell, accompaniers in Agua Prieta
In the courtyard at C.A.M.E. (Centro de Atencion al Migrante “Exodus”) is a mural of migrants on top of “the Beast,” the train that many migrants ride from the South toward the “Beautiful North.” With the migrants on the top of the train is a figure of Jesus with pierced hands. He has suffered. He is compassionate. He is their companion.
As I was escorting her family back to “the line,” a Mexican mother of two spoke of how uncomfortable her two-year old son was in “the line,” waiting for their turn to cross into the U.S. and have their asylum hearing. I shared with her that I was uncomfortable also for other reasons. I was uncomfortable with my lack of Spanish. I was uncomfortable with the heat and the stares of those who looked at me as different. She then asked, “So why are you here?” I thought of the mural at C.A.M.E. “Because Jesus is with you, and he wants us to remind you that he loves you and that you are a child of God.” “Gracias,” she responded.
Sometimes Beth and I are confused about what is happening next, but then we think about how confusing things must be for the migrants. They are subject to a schedule over which they have little or no control. They don’t know when they will be called to cross into the U. S. Furthermore, discomfort is too tame a word for what the migrants have and are experiencing. We sense their fear as they describe why they are here at the border. For the asylum seekers, this is a life or death situation.
We know that in life and in death we belong to God and Jesus is with us all, at C.A.M.E., on the line and with those who cross over into the United States. Jesus is also with those who welcome migrants into a new life in the U.S. Thanks be to God.