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

In Mexico’s Matamoros, migrants search protected haven with Abraham Barberi, the ‘hip-hop pastor’-Artwork-and-culture Information , Novi Reporter

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 on account of COVID-19, he discovered he couldn’t say no.

In Mexico's Matamoros, migrants seek safe haven with Abraham Barberi, the 'hip-hop pastor'

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

Matamoros, Mexico: As soon as, Abraham Barberi was often known as the “pastor of rappers,” host of Christian hip hop live shows focusing on younger drug sellers in Mexico in hopes of placing them on a unique path.

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

The Baptist pastor of Matamoros — a Mexican metropolis separated from the USA solely by the river — nonetheless leads his “hip-hop church,” however has remodeled his Bautista Sola Scriptura Bible Institute into a short lived bare-bones protected haven for these on the lengthy exhausting 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 had been allowed to cross the border as their asylum functions had 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 on account of COVID-19 , he discovered he couldn’t say no.

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“We had 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 already know, individuals come to our doorways, mothers with little children, and what will we do? We won’t say ‘no, we do not take you.’ We have now to take them, proper? So now, we’ve over 200 individuals.”


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

Some have a look at their telephones. Others admire the vitality of their kids 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 daily.

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 beneath the MPP (Migrant Safety Protocols).

Many interpreted the transfer as “opening the borders to everybody,” explains Barberi. “That is why individuals flooded the border cities of Mexico and we bought 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.

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One other impediment is the usage of a legislation, Title 42, beneath the pretext of COVID-19 , to forestall asylum seekers from coming into the USA.

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

‘I couldn’t keep’

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

Gathered in a couple of minutes exterior, they are going to be capable to legally enter the USA 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 may have lasted greater than a 12 months.

Their pleasure is just not ostentatious, maybe muted by respect for others who nonetheless have a protracted wait forward of them — maybe by concern of what comes subsequent.

Felipe Atanasio Sanchez, 21 years outdated, has bother 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 comfortable, motivated. I do not know what to say, I am moved,” he says earlier than entering into the van that may enable him to take a COVID-19 PCR check, the final hurdle he should cross earlier than reaching American soil.

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

However on this second, his pleasure can be within the driver of the automobile 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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