Home

Casa del Migrante

  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 1 to theme_field() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/theme.inc on line 166.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to usernode_link() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/vcnvorg/public_html/oldsite/includes/module.inc on line 203.

This report was originally written for the Detained Immigrants Accompaniment Project which goes to visit immigrants in process of deportation at the McHenry County Jail in Woodstock,IL.

Casa San Juan Diego – Matamoros 1/28/13

People deported from Chicago most often come to Brownsville or Hidalgo in Texas. ICE then leads them onto the bridge and tells them to go. When I crossed these bridges, I chose the time of my arrival to be a daylight hour, but people being deported have no choice and sometimes it is night time when they enter an unknown city.

This being my first time in Matamoros , I took a taxi. I went to the first car and asked the driver if he would take me to Colonia (zone) Solidaridad. He referred me to the next driver in line who referred me to the third. (Apparently I was an undesirable fare at this point.) Finally this third driver told me he’d take me. I asked what price and we eventually settled on 150MN. Someone deported from the US could not likely afford $12 for a short taxi ride.

For a while, Grupo Beta (a Mexican government program to help migrants in the border zone) was helping to transport deported people from the bridge to the Casa del Migrante, but employees at the Casa have reason to believe that the Matamoros branch of Grupo Beta has had a gang infiltration, that the agents are telling migrants that there is no house in Matamoros, that they have to go to Reynosa, and then somewhere along the way the migrants are set-up to be robbed. We should definitely tell the people we visit in jail that yes the house does exist, but it is kind of far from the bridge.

I was in the taxi for longer than I expected, perhaps 15 minutes. It is a complicated and long route to Colonia Solidaridad. If you check it out on google maps you can’t get it any simpler. We jigged and jagged down Primera, Canales, Ave del Maestro, Ave del Nino, Ave Solidaridad, Sultana, Emiliano Zapata, then down Ave Golfo de Mexico to #49. There I met Rosie, a woman who has worked at the Casa for many years.

Since we have the office number for the Casa listed on the info sheet we give to prisoners at the jail, I did not receive a response for the several days leading up to my visit. For this reason I was pretty much showing up unannounced. (I now have a better number so that people who call can actually reach someone.) After explaining who I was and showing her my identification, she said she just needed to ask Padre Francisco, who runs the house. Luckily, he said okay.

So then I walked around to look at the place and talk to the guests, the majority of whom were from Honduras , where there is currently serious political repression. see articles on this topic About half of the guests are from Central America heading north and the other half are Mexican nationals deported from the United States.

Many of the Mexican guests were out looking for work during the day, but I spoke with one woman who was present who had been deported the week before. She broke up with her girlfriend in Oregon and was leaving to move back with her grown children in Florida but while en route, she was kidnapped by ICE. Now she faces the prospect of having to start a new life in Mexico after more than 30 years. Her children cannot sponsor her for a visa because of the fact that she lived in the US without documents. In effect she must ‘enter without inspection’ if she wants to return home.

The Casa operates like your generic Catholic Worker house, except that security is tighter. Only guests are allowed, not their friends. Although coyotes (smugglers) hang out in the neighborhood, they are not allowed to make deals on the property.

There is a bedroom with about 30 beds for men, and a bathroom with about 6 showers and toilets. There is a smaller women’s area of the building that I didn’t see.

There is a large yard space with patios on two ends and a sidewalk on a third. Several guests were also working with a construction crew to build a new sidewalk along the one remaining side of the yard. Guests eat breakfast and dinner each day in the dining room. Lunch is served at a church 2 blocks away. This is also where the phone is. Guests can receive calls (they call the person’s name on the PA). They can make calls out to Mexican phone numbers (to arrange jobs or family pickups, etc) or to other countries if they have a calling card.

There is a 3-day limit for staying at the Casa, but from what I understand, exceptions are sometimes made for people trying to get themselves established, such as the woman who was trying to go from Oregon to Florida .

When it was time to leave, so that I’d get back to Brownsville by dark, I asked if it was safe for me to walk out and catch a bus. One person said he would walk me through a wide open field to one street over where there was a bus running to go back to the bridge. The fare was 8MN.


Casa Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe— Reynosa 1/29/13

This Casa is relatively close to the bridge. However, walking should not be encouraged as apparently there are robbers and worse waiting along the street that goes to Colonia Aquiles Cerdan. Reportedly Grupo Beta is doing their job better in Reynosa .

I had an 11 o’clock appointment with the house matriarch, Sister Mireldia of the order of the sisters of charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Upon getting to the house about a half an hour late, I noticed the difference in security. Unlike Matamoros , where the building faces the street, this house has a wall around it with an iron gate.

A doorman opened a small porthole in the gate after I banged on it. Following a short back-and-forth, he unlocked several locks before sliding the gate open and then shutting it behind me. He led me to the office where I met Sister Marta, who said Sister Mireldia was also running late. Sister Marta is was actually from a sister house in Palenque that helps migrants in the Guatemalan border region.

When Sister Mireldia arrived, she took me outside to the main courtyard area and told everyone in earshot to gather round and put chairs in a circle. She explained to them who I was and that I visit with people in jail who are being deported. This whole conversation in a circle thing was a little unexpected but I went with it. I asked the group what they would say to someone who was going to be deported after them: what to watch out for, other advice, etc. Again at that point many of them said they were from Honduras going north (almost ¾ of the 20 or so men gathered around). A couple said they were Guatamalan.

Two men did tell me their stories of being deported. Both of them said that between the arrest, jail, and the ICE transport to the border, all their property was ‘lost’ and they entered Mexico with nothing. One said he was flown from New York to Arlington , Texas and bussed to the Hidalgo bridge. The other was a resident of McAllen , TX with a citizen wife and children. He said that if he could, he would have taken the time to fight his deportation case, but meanwhile he could not afford bail, and “the bills don’t wait”.

After a while a therapist arrived to the Casa for a group session with the guests and I was led away to see some of the rooms. There are two large bedrooms with about 40 beds each. Mireldia told me that at times there are more than 100 men staying at the Casa. In those cases they put mattresses on the floor in the upstairs religious/recreation space for overflow lodging. There is a smaller room for women with about 10 beds. At the time I visited there was only one female guest.

Another worker Sister Rosa showed me the roperia where all the donated clothes are kept in order of size. There are many shirts but a constant shortage of pants.

I also saw the pantry. Mireldia told me that when a large group of say 100 men are deported, all the food will soon clear out. When a guest leaves they also receive a bag with bottled water and cookies to take with them.

There are also new sections of this Casa being built. In the future they hope to have a waiting room for large groups, a medical clinic and a series of 4 booths for phones. Mireldia showed me a chart of the casa’s internal statistics. It showed admissions of deported people by month. There are huge jumps in the months of February, April, June, and August. These are when ICE makes the highest number of deportations and when this house stresses their resources as best they can. Whatever their system, it is obviously not for the people’s well-being.

While we were talking about that, two Honduran men showed up and went through a short admissions process: Mireldia simply wrote their names in a book along with the date. Then she gave them hand-written cards with their name on it. She said to go to the kitchen as it was time for lunch, so we all did.

After that Mireldia asked me to accompany her and a young 17-year-old man leaving the house to get a taxi. She said she does it this way a lot because there are those with bad intentions who wait for a migrant coming out to make their move and eventually rob them. When she goes with she thinks it adds some level of protection because she is a nun in a habit.

When it was time for me to go, I asked her if she felt I needed to go through this process, too. She said no one would mess with me because I’m gigante. Nevertheless, when a man showed up in a car with a clothes donation, she asked if he would give me a ride, and he did.

Hope this helps everyone have a better idea about what the Casas del Migrante are like.