Sister-run home shelters deportees from US, renews spirits

Daughter of Charity Sr. Edith Garrido in the main area of Casa del Migrante Reynosa (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

After three days of walking through the desert, an hour from her destination in Houston, Elizabeth Ortiz ran a short distance before U.S. immigration officials tackled her to the ground.

Ortiz had left Mexico City to earn money to send her teenage daughter to college in Mexico, something she knew was not possible on her $40-a-week salary there. She had spent five years undocumented in Seattle, but missed her children too much and chose to return to Mexico. A year later, she decided to try to enter the United States again, this time traveling in a group of 10. Three managed to run away from officials, and one man in his 50s had told the group to leave him behind. The remaining six, including 32-year-old Ortiz, were caught in early May.

As immigration officials pressed her face against the dirt, Ortiz said, she knew her chance had escaped her.

"I couldn't achieve the American Dream for a second time, and I don't plan on trying again," she told Global Sisters Report from a sister-run home in Reynosa, Mexico.

Casa del Migrante Reynosa, run by four Daughters of Charity in a town bordering McAllen, Texas, shelters deportees from the U.S. as they figure out what to do next.

"When they're deported, they bring with them a very intense pain because they invested in the journey," said Sr. Edith Garrido, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who is originally from Hidalgo, Mexico. "Many sold their houses, their animals, or their land to pay for this journey. So they come back with even less. ... They come to us unraveled.

"For us, the work is to reintroduce hope in their lives, to tell them, 'True, you don't have money, but you're young, you're healthy, and you have the will and initiative to get at least this far, to move your life to a new place and confront new realities. ... At that age, you have your whole life ahead of you.'

"That's our job: to awaken them to their new life."

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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