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In Mexico’s Matamoros, migrants seek safe haven with Abraham Barberi, the ‘hip-hop pastor’-Art-and-culture News , Happy Easterday

In Mexico’s Matamoros, migrants search secure haven with Abraham Barberi, the ‘hip-hop pastor’-Artwork-and-culture Information , Joyful Easterday

The pastor was himself as soon as an unlawful migrant, concerned in drug trafficking and crime, and had hung out in jail. Now, together with his Bible examine centre empty resulting from COVID-19, he discovered he couldn’t say no.

Pastor Abraham Barberi poses for a portrait inside his church. AFP

Matamoros, Mexico: As soon as, Abraham Barberi was often called the “pastor of rappers,” host of Christian hip hop concert events concentrating on younger drug sellers in Mexico in hopes of placing them on a special path.

Now, he’s making headlines by caring for a brand new flock: greater than 200 folks from Central and South America who dream of crossing the Rio Grande and migrating to america.

The Baptist pastor of Matamoros — a Mexican metropolis separated from america solely by the river — nonetheless leads his “hip-hop church,” however has reworked his Bautista Sola Scriptura Bible Institute into a brief bare-bones secure haven for these on the lengthy onerous street to a greater life.

The change on the constructing with its yellow facade got here in February, after authorities closed a refugee camp within the metropolis when its occupants have been allowed to cross the border as their asylum purposes have been processed.

With the formalities taking time to finish, authorities requested Barberi to accommodate the final 56 occupants of the camp.

The pastor was himself as soon as an unlawful migrant, concerned in drug trafficking and crime, and had hung out in jail. Now, together with his Bible examine centre empty resulting from COVID-19 , he discovered he couldn’t say no.

“We have been imagined to be open for 2 weeks solely. And in these two weeks, all of them, most of them went throughout the border,” he informed AFP. “However meantime new arrivals got here to Matamoros, they heard about our shelter.”

“You understand, folks come to our doorways, mothers with little youngsters, and what will we do? We will not say ‘no, we do not take you.’ We have now to take them, proper? So now, we’ve got over 200 folks.”


On the institute, the migrants wait within the burning warmth of late Could for america to evaluation or rethink their asylum requests, and attempt to neglect their plight — and their boredom.

Some take a look at their telephones. Others admire the vitality of their youngsters as they play, savouring the second.

It has been months since Barberi accepted the primary refugees, and the Bible Institute nonetheless receives new requests for shelter day-after-day.

This flood has been inspired by one of many measures taken by the brand new Biden administration because it sought to interrupt with the draconian immigration insurance policies of the Trump period: permitting migrants to attend on American soil for a solution to their asylum requests below the MPP (Migrant Safety Protocols).

Many interpreted the transfer as “opening the borders to everybody,” explains Barberi. “That is why folks flooded the border cities of Mexico and we obtained so many individuals proper now.”

However many roadblocks nonetheless await the migrants as soon as they attain the border — amongst them, the truth that the MPPs haven’t been accepting new registrants since 21 January.

One other impediment is the usage of a legislation, Title 42, below the pretext of COVID-19 , to stop asylum seekers from getting into america.

So, within the warmth of Matamoros below Barberi’s care, they wait — generally for months at a time.

‘I couldn’t keep’

This morning, nevertheless, a Bible faculty worker is scouring two flooring for the 20 or so folks whose names he simply obtained on his e mail.

Gathered in a couple of minutes exterior, they’ll be capable of legally enter america within the coming days to be heard by the authorities. They profit from the authorized help of some American associations. But even with that secret weapon, their wait in Matamoros can have lasted greater than a yr.

Their pleasure will not be ostentatious, maybe muted by respect for others who nonetheless have an extended wait forward of them — maybe by worry of what comes subsequent.

Felipe Atanasio Sanchez, 21 years previous, has hassle discovering his phrases. “They killed my father and I couldn’t keep in Mexico… Due to the crime, I felt susceptible,” he explains.

“Now I really feel completely satisfied, motivated. I do not know what to say, I am moved,” he says earlier than moving into the van that may permit him to take a COVID-19 PCR check, the final hurdle he should cross earlier than reaching American soil.

As for Barberi, shepherding folks like Sanchez to the opposite facet is in fact an achievement.

However on this second, his satisfaction can be within the driver of the car taking them away from the shelter: a one-time cartel hitman who has repented, and is now devoted to serving others.

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Updated: June 6, 2021 — 1:28 pm

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