CCDA Global Connections presents: Who is My Neighbor, a six-part blog series recounting stories and impacts from a trip to Central America, written from a CCDA perspective.
Part V: Identities of the Mexico/Guatemala Border
by Katie White
Mexico is a land of two identities. One one hand, you have chaos and lawlessness. On the other, you have strong handed, militarized policing. This dichotomy was demonstrated clearly as we entered Mexico from its Guatemalan border on the final day of our learning voyage through Central America.
As we were making our way through customs to cross the border to Mexico, we stood atop a bridge between the countries with tall fences and armed security. Below, we watched as people pulled rafts back and forth across the border’s river to carry people and tariff free merchandise between the two countries. They were in plain site, yet the armed guards and border security completely ignored their activity.
Upon entering Mexico, we were greeted by our friend Paris. Paris and his wife work in Mexican migrant detainment centers to bring hope to detainees and provide support to human trafficking victims.
In discussions with Paris, we learned that these two identities are also present in Mexico when it comes to migration and human trafficking. The US sends money to Mexico to bolster their immigration enforcement in an attempt to decrease the number of migrants reaching the US.
We experienced this as a group when we were pulled over at a random checkpoint within the borders of Mexico, where police checked to ensure we were not undocumented. We heard stories of Mexican police shooting teens who were riding atop La Bestia, the trains that carry migrants North. We heard of droves of migrants being detained and shipped back to their home countries on run-down, smelly, overloaded buses.
Then we also heard the stories of the lawlessness, of proof of the Mexican government running the largest human trafficking ring in the country through its migrant detainment systems, of the complete vulnerability of migrants as they continue North across deserts and rural areas to gangs and cartels, with no consequence to the perpetrators.
These two identities lead to dangerous and devastating results for people heading North to seek refuge. The identities of Mexico beg us to investigate ourselves and our churches for our own areas of dual identity. Like the view from the bridge, an outsider sees the armed guards above and the smugglers below and can’t reconcile the two coexisting, while the two identities don’t see their own conflict.
Do we preach both displaying the untethered love and compassion of Christ AND that any migrant entering our country without a visa has broken a law and therefore deserves whatever consequence is deemed fit by our government?
Do we believe deep within our souls that everyone is valued and loved by our God AND that the safety of our families and country is above that of others?
Our God is not a God of lawlessness nor of militarized enforcement. He is a God of justice who leads us to hand in our multiple identities for an identity in Him; an identity which welcomes the stranger and loves thy neighbor.
Missed Who is My Neighbor Part IV: Guatemala? Continue the journey as we deepen our understanding of migration, welcoming the stranger, and caring for our neighbors in Central America.