Last spring, Amnesty International warned of the grisly plight of Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States by way of Mexico. Threats to their safety constituted a potential human-rights crisis. In August, the warning was starkly confirmed: in an abandoned warehouse in San Fernando, Tamaulipas (about a hundred miles from the Texas border), seventy-two migrants were found brutally murdered, victims of the feared Zetas drug cartel.
We know the dangers migrants face because at Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Houston, we’ve been told countless times by the migrants themselves. In fact, our phone and doorbell never seem to stop ringing. Our work is largely with immigrants and refugees, undocumented persons hidden from the eyes of most of the world. Usually the calls come in Spanish. Frequently, a request is preceded by a statement like “They told me you could help,” or “The hospital gave me your number.” People get in touch with us after long, painful journeys; others have lived in Houston for a time but come when there is a new crisis.
A mother and her two children recently came to us because her husband, the breadwinner, had been deported. After a few days, her seven-year-old son told us, “I was born here, and my father has worked here for many years. My dad was arrested for robbery. They found out who did it—someone else—but since my dad was already in jail, they deported him for not having papers.”
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About the Author
Mark and Louise Zwick edit the Houston Catholic Worker and are the authors of, most recently, Mercy without Borders: The Catholic Worker and Immigration (Paulist).