La Posada Sin Fronteras:
Faith, Ritual and Raza for Justice at the
U.S.-Mexico Border
Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo,
Genelle Gaudinez, Hector Lara, Billie C. Ortiz
Department of Sociology
University of Southern California
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
Employer Sanctions
Amnesty Legalization (and SAWs)
$$ for Border Patrol
1994 Proposition 187 (California)
Remove access to public education and health care services for
Undoc. immigrants and their children, including U.S. citizen children
1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Restricts public services for legal permanent resident immigrants
Limits legal immigrant sponsors
Expands criminal alien enforcement, and definition of “criminal alien”
Expands $$ for Border Patrol and border enforcement
Calls for hiring more than 1000 Border Patrol agents a year
(w/target of 10,000 by 2001)
“When Mary and Joseph left Bethlehem to
return to Nazareth to raise their child, they
crossed borders as undocumented refugees.
They fled to Egypt, then returned to Nazareth.
They were at risk, and their child was at risk. In
her arms, Mary cradled the savior of the world.
She held our hope. She held the Light in all its
vulnerability. They could have died crossing
borders as others have died….I pray that we
will be people of hospitality and welcome.”
--Bishop Swenson
“Las Posadas del Barrio”
song lyrics adapted by Rosa Martha Zarate
En el nombre de la justicia
Busco apoyo solidario
Cruce la linea de noche
Ando de indocumentado/a
In the name of justice
I am looking for some help
I crossed the border at night
And I don’t have papers yet
No vengas con tu miseria
Ni vengas a molestar
Te voy a echar la migra
Pa’ que te mande a volar
Don’t come to me with your poverty
Don’t come here bother me
I am going to call the Migra
And get you out of here quick
Paisana/o soy de tu tierra
Como tu vine a buscar
Con mi familia el trabajo
Mira mi necessidad
Hey, countryman,I’m from your land
As you did, I came to look
For work to support my family
Notice how needy we are
No me interesa quien seas
Deja ya de mendigar
Yo ya soy cuidadana(o)
Y te voy a reportar
I don’t care who you are
So stop your begging
I am a citizen already
And I’m going to report you
The song continues until a third voice enters with this:
Ya no les siga rogando
Venga a la comunidad
Donde juntos trabajamos
Por justicia y dignidad
Do not beg them anymore
Come with us to our community
Where we all work together
For justice and dignity…..
Final stanza:
Vamos juntos como Pueblo
Como hermanos/as
Vamos todos a sembrar
La justicia que en el
barrio como estrella
Let us go together, as
As brothers
Let us go to sow justice
That in the barrio, in the
Will shine as a star
I’m a Catholic Christian and, um, I believe in
inclusivity. I believe all people are equal in worth
as a human being. And I don’t like the idea of
refugees not being able to come into our country.
(older white woman)
I am a Christian…..we’re all, I guess, illegal here in
some way, so we want to be together. (middle-aged
white woman accompanied by four children)
It’s directly motivated by our commitment to
find what it means to be Christian--um, my
commitment to find what it means to be
Christian in the context of, you know, gross
disparities in income and in the context of
racism…..What does it mean to be Christian?
I think part of what it means to be Christian is
to, um, cross borders that normally aren’t
crossed intentionally and with the intention of
being reconciled. So I think those are deeply
Christian themes.(yg white man)
I just feel compelled by the dictates of my
religion, which is Christian, to, uh, help these
people. (I believe in) this injunction in the
Bible such as, ‘Remember you were an alien
yourself in Egypt.’ And, uh, you have to help
the aliens. This is spread out throughout the,
the, uh, Bible. And, uh, I feel just, uh, a duty,
really, a religious duty to try to ease the burden
of some of these people….. I do what I can to
try and help. (middle-aged white man)
I visited a water tank a couple weeks ago in the
Arizona desert and I talked to more immigrants,
and helped them make contact through the use of
the cell phone…..I was embraced with tears and
great gratitude. It was a very tender moment. The
struggle in the desert is to be humbled. It is just
horrific. It is so shameful there. Tax dollars are
going to that. Just to meet someone who is
walking to cross the desert is a very poignant
moment, so it is very special to be here. (middle
aged white man)
La Posada is something that is traditional within
the Mexican/Latino culture. But it has a special
meaning……How do we look at, at people that
are different? What are the barriers that we
put? Like Joseph and Mary, they were denied
lodging, love and acceptance because they were
poor. Because of the way they looked, and they
were from another country, another area.
Border stuff…what it does is destroy…. I bring
my children because I want to teach them as
well. (Mexican American woman)
(It’s) related with Mexico…like exactly
what the Bible says---One people, one
land. And I wanna experience that you
know. I want to feel that.…. I was born in
Mexico…. you know I used to see my dad
crossing the border and all I (could)see
was a border between you know, my dad
and I. (young Latino man)
“Vengo apoyar a mis hermanos paisanos aqui en
esta Posada….I come to support my fellow
countrymen in this Posada. It means a lot for me
to be participating in this. There are many
people who cannot cross and they cannot be
seen. There are also those who can’t leave (the
U.S.) and this is an opportunity for us to see
each other. We can greet each other and seek
shelter ….Apart from their families! So now this
border divides us, but it’s only a fence. But with
the Christmas spirit and heart, we are paisanos
and that’s why we are here supporting them.
(young Mexican woman)
I think for me also as a Catholic, and being a
Hispanic myself, this is just a way for me to
maintain that connection with, my native
land…. I think the unity for me is what
brings me to it every time. (young Latino