Opinion: For Mother’s Day, I’m reflecting on the stories of migrant mothers who risk everything for their children
Last month, I spoke with a mother of two teenage boys at the Chaparral migrant encampment in Tijuana, who I’ll call Julia. Julia left her hometown in Mexico because a gang threatened her boys and disabled her husband when he defended them. When she and her family arrived in Tijuana, she discovered that people connected to the gang in her hometown were in Tijuana, and she was strongly considering having her boys cross without her to the United States. Julia had heard that if she crossed with them, Border Patrol would return her family to Mexico under a Trump-era order known as Title 42, which President Joe Biden uses to remove thousands from the United States. This would have compromised her boys’ safety.
“I have no other choice, and I’ll do anything to ensure my boys are safe, even if it means separating myself from them,” Julia told me.
Julia exemplified an unrelenting conviction that she needed her boys to survive in spite of overwhelming challenges. Her story, and the story of other migrant mothers, is what I reflect upon during this year’s Mother’s Day.
In recent news reports, motherhood as a reason for migration remains an irrelevant detail. It’s not until I place the stories next to each other that motherhood is accentuated as an important driver for survival, sometimes with tragic endings.
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Rios is director, U.S.-Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee. He lives in Chula Vista. (NNIRR note: Pedro is also a Board member of NNIRR)