A letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar in Mexico
On Saturday, June 30, we celebrated the 7th anniversary of the Migrant Resource Center (MRC).
- 7 years of providing a safe and welcoming place for men, women and children who are being returned from the United States—over 75,000 to date
- 7 years of sharing food and drink with the hungry and thirsty
- 7 years of praying for an end to the suffering of those who are seeking economic opportunity and/or to be reunited with their families
- 7 years of laughing, crying and sharing life with those we are blessed to have walk through our doors
- 7 years of building a binational team of hospitality that crosses political, cultural, economic, and religious borders
Maria arrived at the center in tears. She received comfort from the listening ear and kind heart of Sister Christine Garcia, one of the MRC volunteers. Maria and her husband had crossed the border together and had been caught by the Border Patrol and separated from one another. Subsequently she was returned to Agua Prieta—without her husband and without any knowledge of where he was.
The MRC was able to let Maria know that her husband was still in Border Patrol custody, but no other information was given by the Border Patrol. When night came, her husband had not been returned. Our partners at the Women’s Migrant Shelter provided a safe place for Maria to sleep.
The next three mornings Maria came back to the Center and waited all day for her husband to be returned. On the fourth day, her husband walked into the Center and tears of joy and relief flowed from many eyes as the couple embraced.
The next several days Maria and her husband came by the migrant center to talk with the volunteers at the center, to help do some of the chores, and to be with and support other folks who were experiencing the trauma of our broken economic and immigration system. “You are like family to us—you supported us in our darkest time and we are grateful.”
Fabian was wheeled into the Migrant Resource Center less than 48 hours after having surgery to help repair a severe compound fracture. The MRC has seen a large increase in persons arriving with foot, leg and other orthopedic injuries since we as a nation have built 18- and 30-feet-high fences. Linda Valdez, a member of one of our partner churches and an editor of the Arizona Republic, wrote a piece on May 25 that explored the “hidden costs of tall border fences.” She writes: “The costs are paid by you and by people that Dr. Lynn Gries says are ‘depersonalized and seen as some sort of enemy.’”
For us, Fabian and the many others who have come through are not the enemy, but rather brothers and sisters who are loved by God and by us and who each have unique stories and beauty.
America often shows up at the Migrant Resource Center. Sometimes discovering America is painful. Below is an excerpt from a recent reflection from Laura Stump, the FDC binational intern serving as the U.S. Coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center.
“When five women—all crying—walked into the MRC last week, I knew something was wrong, but I never imagined what until the first woman phoned home, broke down, and through tears explained to her daughter: 'Mija, I can’t do this again. This is not what I thought. You know what they did? Our guides? They raped a 17-year-old girl. She was so young. One man tried to stop them, but they beat him up in front of everyone. I thought they were going to kill him.'”
The women came back to the desk and described what happened. Seventeen-year-old America came alone to cross the border between Altar, Sonora, and Arizona. She came from Chiapas…or maybe Guatemala…but her name was America, America Chavez…or maybe it was America Campillo…
Immigration Reform and the Migrant Resource Center
Since October of 2001 our board has advocated an overhaul of the immigration system that would provide legal status for folks living in the country without papers, a workable system to provide for the future flow of economic migration, and de-escalation of the border buildup. We have hoped that reform would bring an end to a need for the Migrant Resource Center—an end to the disorientation and trauma of Maria, an end to the broken legs and blistered feet of Fabian, and an end to the rape of America—and the hope that our nation may become a place of hospitality to the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
On June 27 the U.S. Senate passed what is being hailed as historic immigration reform legislation that will:
- provide for a pathway to citizenship for many (not all) of the 11 million persons in the country without legal status currently
- expedite the path for citizenship for many (not all) DREAMERS—those who were brought to the country as children
- provide for some (not all) of the demands for future economic migration
However, it will also waste billions of dollars for a “border surge” that has been described by Senator Lindsey Graham as “virtually militarizing the border.”
While the reform would provide for a chance for millions of folks to have a more dignified life, it would not end the need for the Migrant Resource Center. There will be more suffering caused by the surge, there will be more broken legs, there will be more deaths—and America will continue to be raped.
Whether or not immigration reform passes, the binational team of hospitality that has been formed with your help over the past 7 years will be here seeking to be Christ’s body for Maria, Fabian, America and all those who suffer, caught up in the brokenness of our economic and immigration systems.
We are so very grateful for your partnership with us. Muchisimas Gracias!
The Adams Maldonado Family