The Ones Who Have Gathered Here: On Bearing Witness to Asylum Seekers at the Mexico/US Border

The Ones Who Have Gathered Here: On Bearing Witness to Asylum Seekers at the Mexico/US Border

PLAYAS DE TIJUANA, MEXICO. Kineret Ando Yardena visited the border of Texas, USA and Tijuana Mexico on December 23rd, 2018. What follows is her personal reflection of the human chaos she witnessed among those who attempted to find asylum in the USA, and those who came to bear witness, support, or stop them.

It is the day before Christmas and the two preachers across the walls are asking each of us – el posaderos – residents and refugees, visitors and volunteers: who will let the Bearer of the Light Child in? The time has come. The little one is here. Can we make a place for her? He says come in either way.

It is ten minutes earlier and thirty meters down the walk where a family of four hug tightly the three who have come to see them off. They race down the seaside fence-line, climb over into the river of land between the fences where Border Patrol is waiting. First mother and son. Then father who is stretched out on the ground, three guns kneeling over him, the second son almost over, almost, when an officer yells and the boy jumps back, falls to the ground he’s risen from, and without hesitation runs away. His friends running after him, turning him running him back, cradling his foot into the cups of their hands, sending the boy over before they can shout at him again. You must go now. It’s the only way you can stay together. The four of them, one by one, turning themselves in.

It is thirty minutes later and the ones who have gathered across the walls, from all the places they’ve come, stand on two sides of this painted wall fence, on which names are scribed for the veterans who have fought and served, who were deported once they returned; names scribed for the ones who’ve gone before, with dates of their crossing. Flags and graveyard crosses, binational gardens and barbed wired children, the fence posts a canvas for graffiti art prayer. 

Sharing wine, bread and blessings at the boarder in Tijuana, Mexico.

And the ones who have gathered here – on both sides of the fence, are singing rock songs and love songs through the bars of the walls, to God and Jesús, and to Santa Maria, the Holy Borderless One, in Spanish and English, in silence and soul, accompanied by one of the preacher man’s sons on electric acoustic guitar. 

And the ones who have gathered here – on both sides of the fence, are waving through the fence posts, arms stretched, reaching through, fingertip-to-fingertip touching across the river of land, aided by the angels who have come to help them, extending themselves piercingly wide, invisible, fully seen, in midair. 

And the ones who have gathered here – mothers and fathers, children and siblings, veterans, civilians, Dreamers, deported ones, the ones gone ahead, the ones who stayed behind, walkers of all paths; who have this passport or that one, this ID or that one, this mother tongue or that one; first generation or second generation or untold generations on the land their papers, if not their people, live on—  now make their way to small tables on each side of the fence, to receive blessings from the priests who’ve come from close by and across the wall, to feast on bread and wine. Unbordered Body and Unfettered Blood, all the people partaking of one loaf, sharing one goblet together, before departing their separate ways.

About the Author

Kineret Ando Yardena has participated in numerous Zen Peacemakers Native American Bearing Witness plunges, and has served as a council facilitator on the Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat. She is a Zen student in the Zen Peacemaker lineage and a Rabbinic student in the lineage of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. As a youth worker, artist, poet and chaplain, her engagement in the world flows out of her love for serving others, and for being in deep relationship with Mother Earth and all beings. She is engaged in interfaith and international peace work, and guides wilderness rites of passage ceremonies. She will soon be residing in Dallas, TX.

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