I was standing outside the church I go to with my family. A man approached us; he seemed undeniably confused and desperate, and simply asked us for help. He was a migrant who tried to get into the United States, but like many men, women and even children experience daily, he didn’t make it. We told him he should go to a shelter and we even told him the address, we gave him money and watched him fade away in the distance. Sometimes I still think about him, I hope he didn’t get lost and arrived safely. I wish I had taken him to the shelter personally, or that we offered our own house as a shelter. I wonder if he’s still wandering around this city, if he tried to cross the border again or if he came back to his family, wherever he was from. I have no answers to any of those questions.
That is just one of the many stories about migration in Mexico, the havoc of the constant attempts from people from different Central and even South American countries to achieve the “American Dream”, running away from the unending poverty with hopes of giving their respective families the best that they can. Of course, they would think of a first class country like the United States.
Mexico happens to be between those countries, while also getting to experience extreme poverty in Southern states- the numbers don’t lie: 151,647 Mexicans were repatriated from the United States, according to the INEGI, they also present the numbers of “foreigners with an irregular migratory situation”, out of the 88,741 migrants only over 3,000 were deported back to their home countries. I’m not trying to sound like a conspirator but the number looks small once you live in a bordering city, or once you interact with them every day.
The Catholic priest Francisco Gallardo can relate to that situation, as he is in charge of “the House of the Migrant”, translated literally, a shelter by the Catholic church that offers help to the daily deported migrants in the Diocese of Matamoros, Tamaulipas. He brought to light the hypocrisy of Mexicans who don’t help the ones in need, while also calling out the clear racism and xenophobia they were raised to practice as he stated to MexNoticias, a Mexican portal, that “In Mexico, racism is taught since a young age, it’s common for parents to celebrate the mockery of their children of the others’ physical appearance, that eventually makes the children and youth despise migrant’s appearance”.
He also invited the community to put stereotypes aside and help the ones in need.
Personally, I think it’s remarkable for a religious figure to call out such a big issue not only locally but nationally. If it’s in our hands to help, let’s give some of what we have without asking for something in return.