Humanizing the lives at the US/Mexico border

Each person who comes through the shelter and resource center in Douglas, Arizona, has a story to tell.
a person looks into the camera smiling, wearing a striped collared polo short and a green toque
The young US citizen waiting in Douglas, Arizona for an official birth certificate to be issued by the state of Alabama.

Every migrating person who comes through the Migrant Resource Center (CRM) or the migrant shelter CAME in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico—or any other border crossing for that matter—shares one reality: they do not have the proper documents to enter the United States.  Whether they are fleeing violence or poverty, looking for asylum or just want to work, the United States Customs or Border Patrol denies these migrants entry into the country.  This privilege that US citizens and those with US visas enjoy is impossible for people without papers who cannot move freely across the US border. Yet, even though everyone who passes through the CRM or CAME is a person without proper documents, some individual stories do stand out. 

For several months last fall, three families from the south of Mexico stayed at CAME awaiting a chance to apply for asylum now that the US is accepting families with a sponsor who can provide for them while they wait for a court hearing. Because the US port of entry at Douglas, Arizona, does not accept asylum requests, the families lived at CAME while they waited for the larger port at Nogales to approve their requests. In early January, two of the families were able to enter the US to wait with their sponsors for an asylum hearing.  However, the third family did not have a US sponsor, so they are still waiting at CAME in hopes of finding one.

Also, late last summer, a young man who grew up in the south of Mexico arrived at CAME with a US social security card and a hospital birth certificate from a small town in Alabama. After staying at CAME for a few months, he presented himself at the port of entry in early December with the documents he had.  The US cannot deny anyone who claims to be a US citizen entry, so after a two-hour interrogation, he was admitted into the US.  He is a US citizen, but since he does not have a state-issued birth certificate, he cannot get any other form of official US government identification and cannot travel.

He is now in Douglas, Arizona, and has gathered additional records to support his request to the state of Alabama for an official birth certificate.  He has submitted the documents and is awaiting word from Alabama.

  • Pray that the family at CAME finds a sponsor and that they are able to request asylum.
  • Pray that the state of Alabama issues an official birth certificate to this young man.
  • Lament the oppressions of race and class economics that restrict migrating people from finding safety, economic security, and freedom.
  • For US citizens, confess the privileges that you enjoy of free movement across borders.
  • Seek and join coalitions and communities that are working to undo systemic oppression.

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