Sunday, December 7, 2008

Casa del Migrante Field Trip

Our cohort at University of San Diego

Earlier in the semester, our cohort went on a field trip with our religions professor to Tijuana, Mexico to visit Casa del Migrante. It is a home, founded by the Catholic Church, where migrant men can stay after being deported from the United States. They are allowed to stay at the house for a maximum of twelve days where they are provided with shelter, meals, and temporary work opportunities. We were able to eat dinner with the approximately 180 men staying there and hear some of their stories.
Casa del Migrante
I ate dinner across from two men named Fernando and Jorge. Fernando had been living in the United States for twenty-eight years working as an auto mechanic. He lived with his wife and two children, both of whom are in high school, in the Los Angeles area. Both of his children were born in the United States, and are therefore, U.S. citizens. Fernando was drinking alcohol in public, got caught by the police, and was then deported. He had never done anything wrong before that. Earlier in the decade, he was in the process of filing paperwork to become a legal resident, but then 9/11 happened, and the process was halted. Fernando missed his wife and children very much, and with no family in Mexico, he knew that his only option was to cross the border to get back to his family. He wasn’t sure how he would cross, because he didn’t have the money to pay a coyote, but he knew in his heart that somehow he had to get back to his family, even though he was very scared about the journey back to them.

Jorge had been living in the United States for sixteen years and worked in construction. One day, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) came to his work place, gathered up anyone who was undocumented, and deported them. He had no family in Mexico or the United States, but had some friends in the U.S. He said there was nothing for him in Mexico and he was planning on crossing the border the night after we ate with him. He didn’t have any money to pay a coyote to help him cross, but he said he had nothing to fear but God.

I don’t know the fate of these two men, because I was only able to have a momentary encounter with them. Almost all of the people my classmates and I spoke with that night were planning on crossing the border again, either because they had family on the other side or knew there were jobs to be filled. Because of this, they were willing to risk their lives to get back.
Sunset in Tijuana


  1. thats something amazing to witness. it opens your eyes to so much!

  2. my blog name actually means transparent. in german. (something the Lords been teaching me) =]

    but i wanted to say thanks for your prayers. it means a whole lot knowing that there are so many people praying for her. i totally believe that God can heal her, & she has such a peace about death, she knows what waits for her after death =] which is really cool.

    see you soon girl.

  3. Hey Brooke, it's Ashlee Peters! I came across your blog and I really like it. I visited Casa del Migrante with a class in 2005. The stories of the people I met there are almost identical to yours. It wasn't a secret that most people there are just waiting for another chance to cross. I actually work in immigration law now. I wish there were more opportunities for hardworking parents whose children are US citizens. Hopefully Obama can turn things around. Glad to see your well!