Editor’s note: Christian Peacemaker Team members Elizabeth Garcia, Murray Lumley, Rusty Dinkins-Curling and Jane Pritchard from Arizona recently met with “Minnie” in the Women’s Migrant Center in Agua Prieta, Mexico.
Minnie spoke softly, at times through tears, from her chair in the sparsely furnished shelter, evidently in pain from her recently fractured left wrist, and distraught from her ordeal.
She had been living and working in Florida since she and her two children made the journey north in 1999. A month ago, she received word that her mother had suffered a massive stroke in her native Cuernavaca, Mexico. Minnie left her 19-year-old son in Florida and took her 14-year-old daughter to see her mother.
To return to the U.S.A., Minnie arranged the perilous border crossing through a “coyote,” or guide. After two hours walking in the heat of the Sonoran desert, bandits attacked them and took all their money and papers. They kept walking, and crossed to the American side. Late at night they spotted a Border Patrol officer, so they hid in a dry riverbed.
Minnie tripped on two occasions, twisting her right ankle. After the second fall, she was in such pain she could not keep up. The coyote insisted she stay behind so as not to jeopardize the rest of the group. She had serious misgivings about her daughter proceeding with this group of men, but the girl insisted she would be fine, so Minnie let her go.
At 4 a.m., a Border Patrol officer who was tracking migrants on foot found Minnie and took her into custody. He was kind, and helped her carry her backpack to his vehicle, then transferred her to another agent. This second man drove so recklessly and aggressively over the rough road that Minnie was thrown about until her seatbelt came undone and she was thrown down onto the floor, injuring her left wrist.
Minnie cried out in pain, but the officer kept driving, then finally stopped, swearing at her, and saw that she could not move her wrist. He took her to the closest hospital in Bisbee, but the physician just applied a temporary cast without any X-ray. Then the officer drove her to the Naco, Ariz., port of entry on the Mexican border, and left her there.
She called her son in Florida, and learned that the coyote had called him to demand $4,000 in order for her and her daughter to continue the trip, threatening to kill them both if he did not comply. Fearing for their safety, her son sent the money.
Meanwhile, Minnie has heard only indirectly that her daughter is in Phoenix. She is beset with worry over her fate. She is one of the “lucky” ones who survived their ordeal in the desert.
I wonder, when the time comes for all nations to gather before the Lord (Matthew 25:32), how will God judge our nation? As we said good-bye to Minnie, there was still sadness in her eyes, but when we promised to return, she smiled.
— Elizabeth Garcia, Douglas Bisbee, Ariz.