From Jimmy Pace: Letter from a 16 Year Old Migrant

Hello, all!

I intended to pass ahead an excellent, well-written biographical essay contributed by my father James Pace, Jr., an eighty-seven years young former Methodist missionary from Bolivia, South America, now living in Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The Paces hold an important part of the history of South Texas as early settlers to the Rio Grande Valley in the 1920's.

Brownsville borders with the Mexican city of Matamoros just across the Rio Grande, twenty miles west of the Gulf of Mexico. I made Brownsville my temporary home in the late seventies to the early to mid eighties. Many retirees from northern parts of USA spend their Golden Years in Brownsville attending as Winter Texans the First United Methodist Church of Brownsville.  Brownsville is a haven for bird watchers as the "Crossroads of the Hemisphere" witnessing the seasonal mass migration of fowl.

The FUMC-BRO is raises helpful funds the buttress Good Neighbor Settlement House (GNSH) assisting the immigrants as the immigrants are released in Brownsville from the detention camps in the Rio Grande Valley taking buses and airplanes to points north of the US border.

God is love.  Dios es amor.

Much love,

Jimmy W. Pace, III.                   

WORDS  OF  OSCAR  TOOOBAL  BOTZOTZ

Hello, my good Christian friends. I am a 16 year old Guatemalan male just released from the Port Isabel, Texas refugee detention center.  My refugee friends and I refer to it as the 'detention center';  the center's director calls it a prison. We were treated like prisoners..... surrounded by two very high cyclone fences topped by razor sharp triple strings of wire, confined for periods in a very cold chamber [for] violating rules of conduct, enduring a sleepless night without even a cup of coffee or cold tortilla before being dropped off at the Brownsville bus station, being manacled and leg chained on the trip from the detention center to the bus station.

Yet, I am so happy, despite having been jailed for two years and four months, I am free, among new friends who tell me, “Welcome,” with smiles, “We are here to help you: we can provide you with a back-pack filled with food and hygiene items, clothes and a blanket for the cold of the bus, help in taking the necessary steps to obtain your bus ticket, free use of our personal cell phones to call your relatives at your destination, and a refuge where you can rest, eat, shower for a few hours, or remain overnight to travel tomorrow.”

I am so happy....I'm free.....I'm smiling and laughing constantly.....I want to sing and dance.....I'm going to live with my brother in New York whom I haven't seen in four years......I know I have to improve my English, which I began to learn these past two years, but I'm good at languages, fluent in Spanish, and two indigenous languages I learned in my beloved Guatemala. I want to become a U.S. citizen; I can't go back to Guatemala, where there's so much corruption and the threat of death if you don't join a gang.

You asked me, friend, what my dreams are. Some day I'm going to have a wife and children; they'll be proud of their papi; I'm going to be a social worker, specializing with working with children.