A memory from my friend, Larry Trent:
“Sorry, There Is No Room For You In The Inn”
I spent this past Saturday in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico participating in the Bi-National La Posada at the Border. La Posada is the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem. Our Posada began in the Plaza of Nogales, Mx. and consisted of People of Faith from the U.S and Mexico as well as migrants from many countries.
Just as in the story of Mary and Joseph, who were turned away by many, so have the migrants from Mexico and Central America, been repeatedly turned away. “There is no room for you in our country”. “You are dogs”, said la migra. “You take our jobs — go home”. “”You brown-skinned pigs cost us money. You don’t pay taxes”. “Go away. We do not want you here”. “If you come here, we will arrest you, put you in jail, beat you up, give you little if any food”. “There is no room for you here.” “It makes no difference if you are being deprived of food and work in your country. It makes no difference if there is no economic justice for you. I don’t care if it is unsafe for you in your country. I don’t care how your country treats GLBT folks. I don’t care if your family — you spouse, your children, your parents are here.” “THERE IS NO ROOM FOR YOU IN THIS INN”
As we walked the mile or so from el centro to the comedor (where migrants are fed twice a day, seven days a week), we made four stops. At each stop a deported migrant spoke of their experience in the U.S. Each of the migrants had the same reasons for wanting to get to the U.S. — they had family here and/or they had children in Mexico/Central America that they needed to feed. We stopped next to the wall that runs through Nogales, Grupo Beta (run by the govermanet of Mexico to provide services to migrants), Tranportes Frontizeras (privately owned company that provides bus services to migrants who want to return home), and finally at the comedor. Each migrant spoke of the lack of posada they had received from the United States.
Jose, a deportee, that I had met Friday night, walked with me carrying one of the banners. The way I met him was as well a lack of offering shelter as well. I met Jose, along with 6 women, at 11 pm Friday night at the spot where migrants are returned (deported) to Mexico. I had heard that people were being deported late at night and that there was not always any one to meet them to steer them to services. I was returning to my hotel room when I thought I would just swing by and see what was happening at the border station. There, outside in the cold, was Jose and 6 women. They were from Chiapas, Puebla and Oaxaca. None of them knew the other. The women were all hudled together under a blanket. However, Jose was in only a thin long sleeve shirt. he was shivering. I happened to have an extra sweat shirt in the back of my car so I gave it to him to put on. I put the 6 women in my car and got them to a women’s shelter (yes, 6 of them in my Prius — they were very small women). I promised Jose I would return for him shortly. As it turned out — I could not get a response at the first place I went to find him shelter — no one would come to the door. I only knew of one other possibility in Nogales and by now it was past midnight. I really didn’t want to keep running around Nogales alone. I was spending the night in Nogales at a nice hotel near the Mall. Was I to deny posada to Jose as the US had just done earlier that week? Was I to deny posada to Jose like the shelter had just done?
I must admit that I wondered if taking a stranger back to my hotel room for the night was a smart thing. However, the fact is, I did. I did what my my heart said — not what my head said. When we arrived at the hotel, he took a long, hot shower and said that he finally felt warm for the first time in a day. He slept soundly all night long in the king size bed and then spent all day with me doing the things I normally do at the comedor. He found shelter for that night.
When we, as Christians, refuse posada (shelter) to others, we reject the very one we celebrate this Christmas. Jesus welcomed all — how can we do less.