Last night nine people stayed at Casa Mariposa. Five men. Four women. We had a bit of dinner party together just after midnight. They had lived all over the world. Mexico, California, Phoenix, Russia, Guatemala, Haiti. We met them at the Tucson Greyhound station. They were all just released from the Eloy immigration detention center on bond. Many of the women were scared. The buses were full. Both directions: going east and west. Only three people who had already had tickets purchased for them were able to get on their way last night.
At first the women did not want to go with strangers, in a strange car, in a strange city, to a strange house. Who would. Welcome, kindness, compassion, community. Those are not things in abundance in detention or on the journey here for many. It is hard to believe. Or trust.
Last night as many of us sat at the big tables in the great hall eating together left over lentil stew, pinto beans, spaghetti, fried eggs, fresh baked bread, carrots, tomatoes, and snap peas (thanks for that donation of fresh food last night, Cruz! couldn’t have come at a better time!), coffee, and gatorade, you could feel people begin to relax. And smile. And realize that this was real. They were safe. It’s like being at Grandma’s house, one guy said. It’s like we are a family all eating together, another said. I said, we are all brothers and sisters, we’ve just forgot. This is how we re-member ourselves. Some of the women stayed in their room up front and we took them pasta and vegetables. They were still scared. But they were here. And this was better than the side walk outside the station that closes at midnight. Or the Denny’s up the frontage road of the Interstate.
This morning there were hugs, exchanges of numbers and email. We had a box of toys left over from the yard sale. I rummaged through and found a stuffed bear with angel wings. I gave it to one of the women; she is five months pregnant. “For your bebe.” She held it close. Four of the men walked over about 5:15 am with John who had made the bread and coffee we had for breakfast. It’s fortunate we live just about a mile from the station. Everyone else somehow scrunched in Rachel’s car. She is staying here for just a couple of weeks to learn about the border and immigration. She has been an amazing asset to our community and guests in even just a short time. I shut the back door from the outside because people were too squished in to move. And they were off to California, Florida, homes in Phoenix, to a daughter born on the Fourth of July named America, to a family that hadn’t seen them in years, to sisters, and cousins, and court dates somewhere in the future.
I hope they will be okay. I hope they will not be separated from their families by deportations. I hope the little bebe grows strong and healthy and helps change this into a world where we don’t lock people up for trying to make a life and be with their families. In the in between time, we will do what we can to be the beloved community here and now. I am grateful for the chance to be brothers and sisters together for a moment in time.
Some one goes to the greyhound station every weeknight to be present to people as they arrive from Eloy. If you’d like to go some time, please let us know, we’d love to have you go with a group one evening. Speaking Spanish is helpful, but not necessary to be involved at the station or with hospitality. Here at the house there is sometimes coffee to brew, beds to make up, eggs to fry, blessings for bebe’s to be offered. Those are things understood in any language.
Read about the bus station hospitality by Ernesto Portillo in last Sunday’s Arizona Daily Star: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/article_ecae899b-648c-57e6-b81e-abd68cc3cc67.html