‘Journey for Justice’: Immigrants and Advocates Begin 2,200-Mile Pilgrimage Across U.S.-Mexico Border

Left: A father and child sit on a ledge that flanks the barbed-wire former refugee encampment. Right: mother and son. (Sue-Ann Leigh Divito)

Journey for Justice: Witness At The Border is an immigration justice pilgrimage made up of people hoping to enter the United States, as well as immigrant rights advocates. With the goal of highlighting injustices along the U.S-Mexico border, the journey will cover over 2,000 miles and span over two weeks—from Dec. 2 until Dec. 18, ending on International Migrants Day.

Since Title 42 took effect in March 2020, it’s been a cornerstone of border enforcement. As a result, more than 2.4 million migrants have been expelled from the U.S., denying them the right to seek asylum.

A Nov. 15 order by Judge Emmett Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ordered the federal government to end these Trump-era asylum restrictions by Dec. 21, 2022. Sullivan called the Title 42 policy “arbitrary and capricious.”

A message illuminated at the port of entry in Brownsville on Dec. 2. (Sue-Ann Leigh Divito)

The journey began at Xeriscape Park in the south Texas border city of Brownsville.

One by one, then in groups, the caravan participants appeared, standing at the port-of-entry Gateway International Bridge. After exchanging greetings, Felicia Rangel-Samponaro and Victor Cavazos—co-directors of the Sidewalk School for Children Asylum Seekers, a humanitarian and mutual aid nonprofit—escorted members over the bridge into Matamoros, Mexico. There, they visited a dismantled migrant refugee camp, surrounded by barbed-wire fence along the Rio Grande River, where from 2018 to 2020 thousands of migrants lived along the riverbank in a make-shift campground, waiting for an asylum court hearing date across the bridge.

A migrant women and children on Dec. 2, 2022, in downtown Matamoros, Mexico. (Sue-Ann Leigh Divito)

The caravan, traveling primarily by car, will stop in several border towns over 16 days. It is scheduled to end at the San Diego/Tijuana port of entry.

“We must remember the connections ‘Journey for Justice’ is trying to draw between … all the deaths along the border,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, co-organizer and executive director of the National Lawyers Guild in San Francisco. “All are due to the same forces. … It’s the same victims. It’s the same perpetrators. It’s the same structures that move all that machinery. Journey for Justice is here in the spirit to insist on the cause for justice and connect that to the broader arc of justice that brings us here.”

Camilo Pérez-Bustillo. (Sue-Ann Leigh Divito)

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Luna (formerly: cristine de la Luna) is a member of the National Women's Studies Association's Women of Color Leadership Project, an immigrant rights activist and a Ph.D. anthropology and social change researcher. Find her on LinkedIn.