This blog began from the border (la frontera) and has now traversed many borders. I am currently writing from central Mexico, where I am researching the re-integration of deported and return migrants. The migrants I meet and interview have crossed they physical, US/Mexico border many times but also exist in a space of metaphorical borders of identity, nationality, and culture. Here I share some of their stories and my reflections on this space of borders. (Note: the views and information presented are their own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State).
My journey across borders, and this blog, started long ago, when I took a leave of absence from Georgetown University in the fall semester of 2011 to serve recently deported migrants on the US/Mexico border with the Kino Border Initiative. Kino is a binational ministry intended to serve and accompany migrants as well as educate communities on both sides of the border. I was a few hundred yards from the border fence in Nogales, MX serving in a soup kitchen (el comedor) and a women’s and children’s shelter. But this blog was not about me. My presence in Nogales was nothing extraordinary. Instead, this blog was a place to tell the stories of the border, the incredible people whom I met and the grace of a loving God.
And the truth is that although I started writing from the border, the story for me began in the US. My story starts from having friends from immigrant families and later from working with migrant communities in the US and in particular getting involved with Casa Chirilagua, a ministry that works in an immigrant community in Alexandria, Virgina. When I am in the US, I research, study, and work in support of immigrant communities. So I have written from the US as well.
The migrants’ story also is not truly from la frontera. It is from the south. From Central America and southern Mexico. So for the summer of 2012 I wrote from southern Mexico, where I am worked in a shelter for Central American migrants taking the freight trains north. That far south, the issue was much less about the US and much more the push factors. The poverty and violence that propelled people to leave their homes and families in the search of a better life. Some migrants who arrived at the shelter thought that they had traveled extensively already, but the truth was that here the journey north is just beginning. So I wrote from southern Mexico.
Ultimately, this blog is from las fronteras. From the US/Mexico border. From the borders of wealth and marginalization in the US. From southern Mexico, which is part of a very long border for Central American migrants. From central Mexico, a place of coming and going. But even as I write this blog from many borders I hope that in the writing I never forget that we have a God that exists en cualquier lado (on whichever side). And the importance of that truth should not disappear in the midst of a focus on immigration.
Also, I understand that immigration is an incredibly complex and controversial issue. And I do, to the best of my ability, recognize the differing viewpoints on what I will post. But my stories have a perspective and show strong opinions. So please feel free to disagree. But most of all please continue to read and reflect.