Sunday, November 11, 2018

Mexico City: The Caravan: A Gathering of L'Eagles

A gathering of "l'eagles" in Mexico City. November 2018.

When I came to Mexico City, I didn't anticipate any intersection with the US morality test that is the Central American caravan.

Upon my arrival at the guesthouse, however, I discovered a lucky few caravan members had been given refuge here.

And then I encountered two women at my guesthouse: Rasha, a woman from Oman; and Katharine Gordon, an attorney with immigration expertise, affiliated with Al Otro Lado.

Rasha, the effusive, sparkly Omani; and Katharine, a mid-westerner; talked about going to Jesus Martinez Stadium the next day, where Katharine and other attorneys could deliver general information about seeking asylum in Mexico and the U.S.

Rasha has experience with giving succor to Syrian refugees who landed on the Greek island of Lesbos. I call her a "woman who loves." She reminds me of another woman who loves.

I asked if I could follow Katharine also, despite the fact I brought absolutely nothing to the table except my eyes and ears as a witness to a diaspora in action from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Katharine generously agreed to let me tag along.

We agreed to meet at 8:00 the next morning, at which point we'd head to the stadium.

But the next morning, things had changed. Katharine learned that many of the refugees had left the stadium to begin the next leg of their journey to Tijuana, where they believed they would be met with a more law-abiding US border process (i.e. accepting asylum seekers in accordance with existing American law) than other port entries. In addition, even though Tijuana is father away from Mexico City than other ports of entry, it is a safer route than the more direct ones, which suffer under the weight of  violent cartels.

A gathering of "l'eagles" in Mexico City. November 2018.

A gathering of US immigration attorneys who have flown to Mexico City laid a new plan for the morning: Get together for a brief training meeting at the Holiday Inn Express about a mile from the stadium. Katharine wondered if Rasha and I were still interested in going. We were and we did.

A woman named Gretchen Kuhner, who is the executive director of IMUMI (Institute for Women in Migration), shared some information about how Mexican law touches on asylum for humanitarian reasons.

Also present at the meeting was a team of US attorneys from CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights), in Mexico to offer realistic, general immigration information to the caravan refugees so they could make informed decisions about what to do, such as stay in Mexico or proceed to the US.

Katharine Gordon was present for Al Otro Lado.

A gathering of "l'eagles" in Mexico City. November 2018.

Atenas Burrolas, a human rights and immigration attorney in North Carolina, was on board. As was a New Orleans attorney, Graham Prichard.

With all of the bad press that attorneys get for their avarice and cynicism, I was mighty blown away by the attorneys at this meeting, leaving their homes to share knowledge and expertise with people in flight from their own homes.

A gathering of "l'eagles" in Mexico City. November 2018.

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