The symbols and the story of Passover reflect the struggle against injustice in the world. This holiday season, as we remember the story of our Jewish ancestors who fled the slavery of Egypt in search of a Promised Land, we call attention to those who are currently migrating from their homelands in search of that same promise. We stand with those migrating through the desert of the Borderlands, from poverty and violence toward hope and a more livable life. We walk with them in solidarity and feel their presence here at our table.
Many migrants travel the migrant routes that traverse southern México. Plan Frontera Sur, an initiative of México funded largely with money from the US, manifests itself as a massive network of border controls, immigration checkpoints, and armed law enforcement officials. While migrants dodge this peril by escaping into the jungle to walk around checkpoints, they encounter routes overrun with the henchpeople of la mafia who spearhead the business of migrant extortion and kidnapping. All the while, they travel on the top of the infamous Beast: a freight train that they must hang onto with frozen and tired fingers or fall off of to certain death or amputation. They stay at migrant shelters or sleep on the side of the tracks by day and night, begging for food and eating at soup kitchens. After this months-long journey, some reach a city in the Borderlands and cross the treacherous desert or the swift Rio Grande/Bravo where, on top of the constant threat of extortion and kidnapping, they face the military might of the United States Border Patrol, who track them like prey with cameras, motion and heat sensors, mobile tracking trucks, drones, and even satellites. They are scattered into the desert by Border Patrol helicopters, to run for days in the wrong direction. They starve or perish of thirst by day and freeze by night, their bodies scattered across the Borderlands to go unidentified by the US Office of Medical Examiners or to decompose as they become food for local fauna. If found alive in the US, they are deported to México or by plane to their place of origin, and must, if necessary, begin their journey anew, now thousands of dollars in debt to la mafia or neoliberal robber barons. Or, they are detained for months, for simply presenting themselves at the border and asking for asylum; in Florence, Arizona, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in Lackawanna, Pennsylania; far from their families, and forced to pay a US phone company exorbitant rates to call home. This is the journey of the migrant in the Borderlands. This is a migration where no God is raining manna from the sky to sustain the migrants. This is a migration where the Egyptians did not cease their pursuit once their chariots perished in the Red Sea, where the migrants are being chased by ‘la mafia’, by their poverty, by their ‘legal’ status, by law enforcement both corrupt and upstanding in their actions as such actions relate to ‘the law’.
“This is a story that is rarely told to the world. We are reminded that history is written in the interest of hegemonic power, and that, to be able to understand many different perspectives, we must acknowledge the “importance of individual and collective memory and of recovering voices from the margins, for themselves and for the historical record, and the power of historical narratives to ensure – or resist – social, cultural, and economic dominance.” adapted from La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City, Lydia R. Otero
“’Amnesia: the inability or unwillingness to recall due to trauma or enforced taboo.’ We don’t forget. As the Palestinians don’t forget the illegal and brutal occupation of their lands, supported by US funds and weaponry since 1987. As the Maya turned Zapatistas remember through armed struggle a forever- history as the original inhabitants of the territory of Chiapas. As the women of Afghanistan do not forget who trained the ‘terrorists’ whom the US now calls the ‘enemy.’ I remember.”-Foreword to 2001 edition of This Bridge Called My Back, Cherríe L. Moraga
Written by Julian Cranberg
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