Luisa’s Story

Mar 20, 2014
Justice for Immigrants Campaign

After crossing the length of Mexico over ground to get to the border, “Luisa,” a 36 year old widow from the indigenous municipality of Tamazulápam de Espíritu Santo in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and her 20 year old son “Pedro” attempted to cross into the United States by walking through the harsh and unpopulated desert near Nogales, Arizona. Unlike most unauthorized migrants who attempt to cross the U.S. – Mexico border, Luisa and Pedro did not contract the service of a guide. Instead, they attempted to traverse the desert with three others from Tamazulápam, which is among the poorest and most marginalized municipalities in the country. They had plans to settle in Los Angeles, where many members of their community lived and could help them to find work.

After walking through the hot sun for several hours, Luisa was unable to keep going.  Pedro refused to leave his mother’s side. Eventually she and her son were apprehended and detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Despite telling the Border Patrol agents (both in the field and at the detention center) that Pedro was her son, and asking if they could stay together, the two were placed in separate cells. After spending 24 hours in the detention center, Luisa was deported to Nogales, Mexico without Pedro. At the time of our interview on October 16, 2012, Luisa had been staying in a shelter for migrants in Nogales for ten days,  unable to ascertain the whereabouts of her son, who had likely been deported to a different port of entry.  As a woman now alone without a family member or trusted companion, and well aware of the widespread and worsening practice of kidnapping migrants, Luisa fears making the journey home.

For Reflection:

  • What would you do if you felt the best option to care for your family was to live thousands of miles away from them?  Can you imagine such a scenario?
  • What are the biggest stresses in your family that work against stability and unity?  How would the looming possibility of deportation impact this stress?
  • How might you suggest that families remain connected when separated by thousands of miles?  Is there something your local Church might do -- or is doing -- to assist in this struggle?

During this third week of Lent, we encourage you to reflect upon questions like this and the importance of family unity.  For weekly resources to accompany your parish and community during the Lenten journey, visit the Justice for Immigrants Campaign's Lenten tool kit:

*Justice for Immigrants is a campaign by the Catholic Church to educate people about the church's teachings on immigration and to bring about reforms in our current immigration system