MEXICALI, Mexico—While waiting in line at the U.S-Mexico border in Calexico, CA, a person can see on the other side of the border fence people with backpacks looking frightened and lost, some even dirty, asking others for help or money. Many, including myself, just turn away or just say no, not thinking of what they have gone through and automatically judge the person as a bad person, and steer away from them. These people are deportees a long, long way from their homes and families.
After spending 12 hours at a Mexicali refugee camp, Angeles sin Fronteras, a few blocks away from the international border, my perspective towards deportees completely changed. Not only are they good people, but the backbone of America. They do the jobs that many Americans would not even consider doing. The Angeles sin Fronteras’ mission is to protect and provide shelter, food, and clothes for migrants.
I spoke to Hugo Castro, the international coordinator of Angeles sin Fronteras. He has been working with more than 10,000 migrants since the program started in January 2010.
“When you visualize a dream,” Castro told me, “you combine your emotions with your heart, mind, and body. Anything is possible.”
As the evening hours started setting in, a group of migrants who had just been deported arrived at the shelter. There I met Cecilio Granado who had been deported from Tucson, AZ.
Granado had entered the U.S. illegally for the same reason that many of them do—to work. Granado thought that by coming to the U.S. he was going to be able to give his family a better future. Granado believes that everyone has the right to give their family the best but since he was deported, it has become difficult for him.
Vivian C. Cervantes was a rare case. She is an American citizen but lives in the refugee camp among the deported individuals. She has lived with them for the last six months. Unlike the other individuals, Cervantes has a choice whether to live in the U.S or to stay in Mexico, she has decided to stay in Mexico with her boyfriend who was deported.
“The only thing that is stopping them from being the same from us is that brown fence? That’s it,” Cervantes said. “Let them know I said to leave them alone.” She spoke from the heart and wants her message to be told to as many people as possible.
These people have been through deserts, mountains and rivers just to live the American dream. Many have died, lost contact with their families and have lived in harsh conditions along the way. Some illegal immigrants are lucky enough to live the dream and work to have a better future for their families.
Then there are some like Granado who have worked hard for many years in the U.S. and then get deported. Their American dream fades away. Thanks to shelters like Angeles sin Fronteras they are given a hand after having lost everything.
Angeles sin Fronteras keeps updated information on events and issues on its Facebook page.