“My name is Roberto. I have a wife and three young children. We are originally from the state of Morelos, Mexico. Our life in Morelos was beautiful. We lived in a small town nestled in the mountains. We had a small house there, and my brother-in-law lived next door. To have fun, we would go to the park or watch soccer. All across the town, there was a tradition of watching soccer on Sundays after mass. People would come to the park to play, and others would sit and watch them, chatting with each other. The children would play in the grass while the adults cheered each other on or simply relaxed.
The town had a lot of agriculture – we planted tomatoes, corn, onions, jicama, and cane sugar. Our family operated a butcher shop, fruit and vegetable business. Since our town is small, everyone knew us, and everyone knows what happens in town.
One day, people began saying that men from criminal organizations had arrived. Soon after, we got a piece of paper saying we needed to cooperate with them. By this, they meant that we had to pay them a flat fee or they would shut down our business. I didn’t.
Then, they came to our business and kidnapped me. They held me for 3 days in order to extort my family. My family was able to get the money and give it to them. The criminal organization released me. We didn’t tell anyone what happened. We just left. We didn’t even think about it. We just got out of there.
We went to Sonora without any idea of what to do next. When we arrived in Nogales, we didn’t know what our life would look like anymore or where to go. Someone told us about Kino. We went to the comedor. Kino helped us with clothes, food and some personal hygiene items.
We tried to make a life in Nogales, Sonora, but we still weren’t safe. My wife was the victim of an armed robbery. There was a shooting two blocks from where we live. The first place we lived was poorly kept and unsafe for children. The house was made of tin, but we paid 2,200 pesos per month, three times more than the amount someone would pay for a typical home in Morelos.
We spent approximately one year in Nogales, waiting to be processed by immigration. During that time, a meeting was held for migrants at Kino. One of my colleagues said that she wanted to organize a march. I met wonderful people who were willing to help each other without expecting anything in return. At that meeting, we decided to form the group Los Revolucionarios de Kino. We chose the name “Los Revolucionarios” because a revolutionary fights for the freedom and rights of all people. The group would act as a megaphone to amplify the voices of hundreds of people waiting for the asylum.
Once the group was formed, \we had meetings to organize everything we wanted to do to be heard. The achievement I’m most proud of was the march on September 25, 2021. We worked very hard for approximately 2 months to organize that event. 25 families who presented themselves at the port of entry to request asylum, along with the bishop of Tucson, several faith leaders who accompanied them. The most powerful moment for me was when we marched from a plaza to the port of entry, even though it was raining. There were about 500 migrants and about 100 people on the other side who were also supporting us. Everyone sang and cheered, making ourselves heard. No one cared that it was raining. We were there to raise our voices.
It’s true, we didn’t achieve our goal of ending Title 42 that day, but we were seen by millions of people through the screens of thousands of cameras. We were able to unite and act as migrants despite all of us being in difficult situations.We rallied many people from both sides of the border to join our fight. To me, these achievements made the event a huge success.
Later, we did activities to encourage others to join the Los Revolucionarios team. We participated in a training where we could express ourselves most powerfully in front of a camera. We were just getting started, and since we’ve organized more actions to reach more people.
Finally, in April of this year, we managed to get the Biden Administration to announce that they were going to remove Title 42. Sadly, due to a lawsuit against that action, Title 42 has not been removed. However, we managed to open an exception process. Through this exception process, I was able to cross into the US with my family.
Many people have asked me how I managed to maintain hope during almost a year of waiting in Mexico. They ask where I got the desire to lead other migrants. I think it comes from my roots – when I was younger, I always loved to participate, to get involved. I always thought that even if I can’t help a person financially, maybe I can help in some other way.
I want to make something very clear: nobody wants to leave a place where they are happy, where their parents have grown up and have been happy, where they dream of seeing their children grow up happily. We had to leave our place, our home, in order to look for safety. I thank Kino very much for all of the ways they’ve helped us get closer to safety, and for everything they are doing for migrants.
I still have hopes. I hope in the future to no longer be afraid, and to be able to be with my family in peace, without fear or sadness. I hope that all the people who seek peace and harmony will soon have their time, just like my family did. If there is any way I can help make that happen for a person, I will.”
If you are ready to join los Revolucionarios and take action to assist migrants, here are a few steps to take:
- Pray: Bring families seeking protection at the border into your prayer in class, daily announcements, petitions at your parish, adoration or other prayer groups
- Watch and Share: migrant testimonies and resources
- Support the work of Kino by giving financial support, goods, or time.
Above all, keep believing that it’s possible to have a world where people like Roberto can migrate with dignity. It is this hope, this fierce and stubborn faith that God has better for all of us, that sustains and drives us forward.