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Welcome and Rejection

A Letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar, serving on the Mexican border

March 2019

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“Mataron a mi papá y mis tíos, y no quiero que me matan a mí.” (“They killed my father and my uncles, and I don’t want them to kill me.”)

Joel, a young man from Honduras, shared these words with me during the fellowship time after our annual Posada Sin Fronteras. Joel, an evangelical Christian with fear and hope in his eyes, had found refuge at the CAME (Exodus Migrant Attention Center), one of our partners run by the Sagrada Familia Catholic Church. CAME is a shelter that provides a welcoming and safe place for men, women and children who are far from home. Volunteers provide more than meals and a comfortable place to sleep: they provide love and compassion.

He had come to join people from south and north, from east and west to remember the Scandal of Christmas, the danger and risk God took in becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Each December, we gather on both sides of the US/Mexico border for a liturgical procession “re-enacting” Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem through reading Scripture, singing, praying, and displaying symbols. We remember Mary and Joseph seeking room in the inn and fleeing with Jesus to Egypt as refugees. We remember that even in the face of rejection and violence, they were building bridges of peace between God and humanity.
“Me dijeron que mi hija tenía que ir con ellos para ser su ‘esposa.’” (“They told me my daughter had to go with them to be their ‘wife.’”)

At our annual Christmas day potluck at the Migrant Resource Center, Yoribeth, the young Honduran mother of 13-year-old Alison, told us of her fear that her daughter was going to be kidnapped and gang raped over and over again until she either died or lost her soul. She too had found refuge with our partners at the CAME.
Despite the fear that we have heard in the news media and from our government officials about the tired, poor and huddled masses heading toward the US border yearning to breathe free, we have been encouraged by the concern and love shown by so many people of faith and of conscience. While our government has sent the military to greet Joel, Yoribeth, Alison and the thousands of other men, women and children fleeing violence and extreme poverty with razor wire and rejection, our bi-national faith community has joined with countless other communities of faith and conscience throughout Mexico and the US to provide welcome, acceptance and inclusion.

Many of our partners have asked us how our ministry is responding to the exodus of persons from Central America, the great majority of whom are seeking to go through the legal process by presenting themselves at ports of entry and applying for asylum. Instead of providing resources to process these legal petitions, our government sent the military to put up concertina wire along large stretches of the border where the persons had no intention of crossing. In October 2018, we sent 5200 active military to join the almost 20,000 Border Patrol agents and the National Guard that had been deployed in April to respond to approximately 6,000 persons who were coming to seek legal asylum at ports of entry. In addition, the legal processing has been slowed down by “capacity issues.” These delays have led to weeks-to-months-long backlogs, which in turn, have led some (according to government reports and confirmed by reality) to enter the US without proper documentation and then ask for asylum.

Agua Prieta is not the destination for the persons from Central America because the cartels have restricted their movements in this corridor, but our ministry is supporting partners in other communities who are over capacity. Together with our local partners, we are receiving vulnerable populations and accompanying them as they wait to apply for asylum at the ports of entry. We are blessed to have been able to accompany hundreds of people over the last several months. One of our sisters expressed that she never imagined she would be received with so much love on the border: “Ha sido como un abrazo de mi mama.” (“It has been like a hug from my mother.”)

During a conference organized in El Paso/Juarez by Presbyterian Border Region Outreach last fall, the participants crossed the bridge connecting El Paso and Juarez where dozens of men, women, and children were living for weeks while awaiting the possibility of applying for asylum. Jose Luis Casal, director of Presbyterian World Mission, spoke passionately about our response to our sisters and brothers waiting in line for a chance for life.

“I saw Jesus lying on the ground when I crossed back into the United States. And I am here to tell you that we are called to make things just and fair. We must be God’s eyes and ears and hands.” He paused before concluding, “And heart.”

Please prayerfully consider responding through:

Praying: Include the men, women and children who are migrating and seeking asylum in your individual and corporate prayers.

Giving By Loving Mercy and Doing Justice: We are partnering with Café Justo y Más to provide coffee for the Kino Border Initiative, HEPAC, CAME, and the Migrant Resource Center, all of which are providing hospitality to migrants and/or asylum seekers. The purposes of the ministry are to:

• Provide delicious, organic coffee for guests of the shelters.

• Address root causes of migration by expanding the impact of the Café Justo model.

• Educate Christians about the connections between their economic choices and migration.

For each pound of Café Justo Y Más donated, Café Justo y Más will provide a pound. Donate at and put “Love Mercy, Do Justice” in the memo.

Learning More: Watch the film “The Genesis of Exodus: The Roots of Central American Migration,” view the comprehensive story map for “The Genesis of Exodus,” and use the Reflection Guide (PDF) to supplement your understanding of the content presented in the film and the accompanying story map to assist in mobilizing action.

These resources can be found at the PC(USA) Office of Immigration Issues website,

Writing: Contact Casa Mariposa Detention Visitation Program to find out how you can write persons who are in immigration detention to remind them that they are not alone. Contact Rev. Elizabeth Smith, one of the program coordinators and Frontera de Cristo board member, to learn how you and/or your church can provide hope for those awaiting immigration hearings:

Advocating: Call your representative and ask them to do the following:

• Urge Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the reunification of family members.

• Restore our commitment to refugees by increasing our resettlement goal to 75,000.

• Maintain budgetary commitments for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

• Resist the funding of more wall construction.

Go to and enter your zip code — the contact information for your representative will be displayed.

Miriam and I are so grateful to God for the blessing to serve with our sisters and brothers here on the US/Mexico border and for the gift of Joel, Yoribeth, Alison and each person seeking refuge that we encounter. Join us in prayer for them. Thank you for helping make our life and ministry possible through your prayers, your encouraging words and your generous financial support.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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