DOUGLAS — Separated by steel bars that divide Agua Prieta and Douglas, participants in a cross-border posada Tuesday recalled Joseph and Mary’s journey in search for lodging — and the journey of all the migrant families.
About 70 people gathered on both sides of the border to celebrate the binational posada, where participants on the Mexican side asked for refuge in the United States. Community members and migrants taking part in the event sang an adaptation of the traditional lyrics where one group asks for refuge while the other declines until they arrive at a home where they are welcomed.
“It’s a reminder to open our homes, our churches and our community to those who aren’t from here,” said Mark Adams of the binational ministry Frontera de Cristo. “And by doing so we are welcoming Christ.”
On Tuesday, instead of seeking refuge in homes, participants sang stanzas through the border fence that told the story of a migrant who left her children behind because she had no other option.
But at the end, instead of those in the United States letting the migrants in, the Douglas participants crossed into Mexico through the port of entry and sang their way to the Resource Center for Migrants, where they shared hot chocolate and sweet bread.
Even if they didn’t find shelter in their final destination, migrants who participated said it was a blessing to have found a welcoming place when they needed it the most.
Hermilo Santizo Gonzalez, 19, tried to cross through Naco last week with his 16-year-old cousin but the pair was quickly apprehended and deported.
He said he is grateful for the shelter and support he found in Agua Prieta, even if his dream of migrating to the United States didn’t come true.
“I am just grateful for how they’ve treated me here and that we are healthy,” he said during the posada, before he and his cousin headed to the bus station to go back to Chiapas.
“Many people get hurt during the journey but we will be able to go back and be with our families,” he said.
For Reyna Martinez and and her husband Francisco Garcia, a couple from Honduras who were heading to the United States when she gave birth to her son Francisco, their search for a better life ended in Mexico.
“Here we’ve been welcomed and found a lot of support,” she said outside the center.
She said they left their native Honduras in search of a better life and now they’ve found it. Her husband is working in a factory.
“The community might be divided by a fence but its united by our faith,” said Adams.
The posada was hosted by the binational ministry Frontera de Cristo, La Parroquia de la Sagrada Familia and the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta. This year’s theme was families united without borders, given a record number of deportations during the Obama administration, Adams said.