The Children of Camp One, Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Rick Ayers
8 min readApr 5, 2020

Second of three articles

[I can only post this under one name but this is actually by Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga <>, Dr. Amy Argenal <>, and Dr. Rick Ayers <>, University of San Francisco.]

Fue un adios una despedida in the dark…. Saying goodbye to walk the bridge.

The calls began coming in to us at Bay Area Border Relief (BABR) Wednesday night. Four children from Camp One had been forced to walk alone on the long bridge over the Rio Grande to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents. Step by step, young children leaving their parents to be unaccompanied minors in the United States so they can survive. The cries of the parents are beyond desperate, they are anguished, inconsolable and completely heartbroken to have to say goodbye and watch their children take the steps that may force them apart for years, maybe even forever. As the coronavirus pandemic looms over the country, pushing its way into all communities, our asylum-seeking families wait with little protection — their fears only compounded.

They are tired. For the children of Camp One, it’s been nine long months of weathering the storm of the US government’s current policy. As one dad, Kique,* shared, “When we were with ICE begging for asylum, they told us we were being sent back to Mexico because of the new Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also called the Remain in Mexico protocol. We thought we were coming to a special program or shelter, but they threw us to the other side, on the sidewalk, with nothing, no place to sleep, no place to go. We had nothing, scared for our lives in our country and in the dark of Matamoros. For two weeks, my wife and daughters slept under the park bench at La Plazita. I slept on top to shelter them, until someone was kind enough to give us a tent.” Since June of 2019, families of Camp One have worked to gather together, tent by tent, united by tragedy and survival. Subject to the elements, suffering hunger and insecurity, these families are warriors in this fight for their lives.

In the camp, families were consumed by rumors of US immigration shutting out volunteers and closing the border to asylum seekers, leading to parents’ desperate cries of exhaustion and fatigue…

Rick Ayers

Rick Ayers is professor emeritus of education at the University of San Francisco.