A Sad But Hopeful Binational Posada
December 17, 2010
By Mariana Martínez
Three walls were divided those attending the traditional Posada without Borders this year.
Three walls, a dozen Border Patrol Agents and stricter regulations where all obstacles in the annual celebration held at the border fence during the holidays.
The Posada started around 2:00 pm last Saturday, when a group of activists made a line to pass through the last of a series of security checks by the Border Patrol, in order to enter into what used to be Friendship Park, to greet their Mexican counterparts.
“This is the first time I’ve been asked to show a passport in my own country” said pastor Wayne Riggs, head of Plymouth Congregational Church.
“This is a new reality this side of the border, but at the same time it makes me feel about the experience that an undocumented feels when they come here.”
Border Agents divided the group and allowed only 25 people to approach the wall, where a hundred people where waiting for them on the Mexican side, including the Tijuana Archbishop, immigration activists and immigrants who had been recently deported and currently stay at shelters in Tijuana.
“It is getting more and more difficult to celebrate Posada because of the structures that have been created around it” said father Luiz Kendzierski, director of the Scalabrini Immigrant Shelter, a 20 year-old shelter housing immigrants from across the world.
“But every year I’ve admired the spirit of these people, who are hopeful, interested, engaged with one another. People who show that not everyone looks down upon immigrants or immigration in general but embrace it instead, and want them as part of their society… in this part of Mexico all we can do is welcome them all, either coming from the South or deported from the North” he added.
Border Agents also controlled the time slots for the groups to engage in the Posada: No more than 20 minutes per group. US Activists opted on taking turns so that everyone can experience the exchange.
People who had come to previous Posadas remember a time when they could hold hands, share tamales, hot chapurrado, and candy across the fence. Now they had to settle with looking at each other through the fence, 3 feet apart.
Border agents’ didn’t allow any kind of food sharing or touching either.
Activists had to fight to keep a festive spirit no matter what the limitations. The voices of the chorus and guitars did make it across the border and people had the traditional representation when Mary and Joseph ask for shelter in Jerusalem.
“We get together every year to send a clear message to both governments, we tell them their policies are not working, they cannot keep us apart forever” said Cristian Ramirez from the American Friends Service Committee.
“In this season of hope and unity in the Christian faith, it is important to remember these walls are temporary, they are going to fall, because the message is universal, unity. Today Tijuana and San Diego are, symbolically, one. We hope for a day this border is not the dead bed of so many” he added.
Behind Ramirez, the chorus erupted into a renewed song.
Latter, two immigrants decided to share their testimonies, two very similar to the story of Mary asking for shelter on Christmas Eve.
“I was deported from Anaheim” said a young man named Ernesto Aguilar, “I was deported unfairly by a cop who said my bike was lacking a flashlight. I wasn’t even on the bike when he arrested me and asked for my deportation”.
Aguilar is now waiting for his family to send money so he can go south with the rest of his family in Mexico.
“I hope we all have better luck next year and that all of those trying to cross make it without any trouble” he said.
A woman named Esther Morales Guzmán, born in Oaxaca, Mexico shared her failed attempts to reunite with her daughter in the US.
“I was deported for the first time 9 years ago. I crossed again to be with my little daughter. I got caught and crossed again. I got caught and crossed again, I even managed to stay with her for a while until this time…”she said with a trembling voice.
“Everytime all I could think about was my beautiful baby girl, how I could feel her sadness over the phone when we talked, how I could only imagine her trauma living a life without her mom…she is the reason why I tried so hard, and tried again…” she added.
Morales daughter is now 18 years old and about to enter UCLA.
“Now I know even if a wall is between us, our love is larger than any fence so it can never keep us apart” she said with renewed smile.