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Report from La Casa de Paso at the Tijuana Border • June 2023

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of kinship lately. Here are some recent examples.

Last Sunday Lily and her daughter Paulina came to La Casa de Paso for the day. They brought a mom and her little girl with them. As Paulina explained, “They are our friends—our only friends at the shelter.” How nice that they invited them to a day away from the noisy, overcrowded shelter, although it is slowly emptying as many asylum seekers get dates to cross on the app.

The best news is that they will cross on Friday! Paulina said they are so nervous. How could they NOT be? Imagine waiting so long, hoping you have all the necessary papers, handing them to the border official, and praying that everything goes well and you are allowed to enter the U.S. New worries about what happens after that will creep in soon enough.

Lucia and her two children crossed a little over a year ago. We all piled on a bed at La Casa the night before to watch a Disney movie and eat popcorn to help everyone relax. The kids were ecstatic, but Lucia stared into the distance, her face etched with worry about what the next day would bring. Now, a year later, she and the kids are doing so well! She lives about two hours from where Lily and Paulina will be, so I gave Lily her phone number so they can connect.

But back to yesterday! It was Paulina’s 17th birthday! How great that they were at La Casa to celebrate! Javier asked the moms if they wanted to make pozole, which takes work but often is made for special occasions. They said yes, so Javier went to buy everything. While the women cooked, Javier took Paulina to the bakery to pick out a birthday cake. He bought big 1 and 7 candles and asked the baker to write Happy 17th Birthday Paulina! on the cake. He said it was a beautiful, happy day for everyone.

Yesterday 20-year-old Karina and her older sister Nancy arrived back at La Casa de Paso. (Karina lived elsewhere in Mexico but returned to Guerrero to rescue Nancy after learning she was being sexually abused by her caregivers.) They will stay at La Casa until they cross in two days and head to family in the Midwest. Javier will make sure Karina has all the information she needs when they cross. Lily and Paulina will be at La Casa the day before they cross.


I spoke with Karina this morning—they crossed with no problem yesterday! Their papers, ID, and the sponsor’s name on their application were checked, and they were assigned a March 2026 court date at their destination. Then they got COVID tests and were taken to a hotel in San Diego to await the results. Tomorrow they will be on their way to their mom’s house, who must be overjoyed that this day has finally come. And (as I keep updating) … Karina and Nancy arrived safely in the Midwest, and Lily and Paulina crossed as scheduled on Friday, have a court date for this September, and are safely at their family’s house in CA!

So, back to kinship. I latched onto the word in reading Gregory Boyle’s books, and it fits perfectly. Javier and I no longer experience what we do as “us” helping “them.” It feels like “we,” where we are all in this together. These families enrich our hearts every day. We are the privileged ones just to be with them on this part of their journey.

We tend to what is severed and we begin with belonging. We have flown too far away from each other. Make the family circle wider. Once you're done, wider still. Then you can see the frightened faces....We all belong to each other.

Gregory Boyle, The Whole Language


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