Reynosa is a border town in Mexico across the Rio Grande from Hidalgo, Texas. After crossing the international bridge, it doesn’t take long to realize that you’ve entered another world. Specifically, you’ve entered the Mexican state of Tamaulipas — a place that provides refuge to those fleeing violence and poverty in other countries, while also creating refugees of its own due to the violence and poverty that exists within its borders.
La Casa del Migrante Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, directed by Sister Catalina, is one of the shelters in Reynosa that tends to displaced peoples. When we visited on one of the last days of July, the shelter was only about half-full. This was not the case for their sister shelter in Matamoros, which had received the group of deported Mexicans for the month of July.
But the shelters alternative months – and with the calendar soon to change, the Reynosa shelter was gearing up to receive the August group of deportees.
The people who arrive at Casa del Migrante have a lot of needs, but one of the most pressing is a new pair of pants. It’s not uncommon for migrants to arrive at shelters wearing the same clothes they were wearing on the dates of their original departure, days, weeks, or months ago.
A fresh change of clothes after an overdue shower is a small comfort the shelter can offer to people who face a very uncertain future.
There was a sale on the day we were in Reynosa – 60 pesos for a pair of pantalones at a local market (about $5 in American currency). So we bought A LOT of pairs of pants.
But a lot of pairs of pants is exactly what Casa del Migrante needs. When we were there, the shelter had already tended to 2,386 deported people in 2019, and there is a lot of 2019 left to go.
Bill is a social studies teacher at Forest Lake Area High School, living in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. A native Minnesotan, Bill spent a year in Mexico, teaching English and becoming fluent in Spanish. The opportunity to make an impact on the issues happening on the southern border has been a time he’ll always cherish. When not in the classroom, petting his cats, or writing for his blog, you can find him in the wrestling ring as the Revolutionary Bill Williams.