Pain Song Along the US – Mexico Border: the forced “yes” of Migration

John Washington in Upside Down World:

ScreenHunter_07 Sep. 18 19.12 Sergio and I were sitting in torn-out bus seats under a hot January sky in Nogales, Sonora, talking about crawling through thorn bushes. We were in an outdoor bus station with a shade-screen ceiling. About thirty other recently deported men and women were sprawled on the concrete, hunched in the gravel, or slouching in other deconstructed pairs of faded but once colorfully-patterned bus seats. Most of them were carrying heavy duty plastic Homeland Security bags. Inside the bags were their effects, their pertenencias, that they had either crossed the border with or were carrying or wearing when they were arrested stateside.

I was interviewing Sergio (names are changed for privacy) about his two recent deportations. The organization I work with, No More Deaths (a migrant aid org), had reclaimed and returned Sergio’s pertenencias to him. After some struggle and lots of “lost” wallets and stacks of cash, we’ve set up a system with Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that we can retrieve apprehended migrants’ pertenencias. It works occasionally. Before Sergio and I started talking, I watched him change out of the soiled shirt he had been wearing for days and into a pink, tight polo shirt. The buckle of the belt he looped around his waist was a skull with red eyes. Sergio was young and chubby, but with strong looking hands and dark deep-set eyes. When he started telling me his story, his ordeal of the last two months, he spoke confidently and rapidly, describing the desert crossing and his time in prison and his wife back in New York in swift, hard details, without hesitation. But then, something came into his voice. It was when he was talking about his time in court. It was a voice I recognize. It was, I don’t know what to call it, a wetness that came to his voice. Not to his eyes, though it came there next. But first to his voice. A swelling or an opening. A hollowing of his voice.

More here.