Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By Adrian Florido
Men and women who land in Tijuana after being deported from the U.S. lost a great friend this week.
Micaela Saucedo was one of the city’s most vocal advocates for that city’s vulnerable deportee population. She died Sept. 1 after a battle with cancer.
Saucedo was a founder and executive director of the Casa Refugio Elvira, which began in 2007 as a shelter for women and children who found themselves stranded in Tijuana after being deported from the U.S.
More recently, she moved her old 10-bed shelter into a larger building and began housing men, who make up most of the deportee population on the streets of Tijuana.
The idea for the shelter was sparked when a Mexican immigrant named Elvira Arellano left the Chicago church where for a year, she’d been seeking safe harbor from deportation. She traveled to Los Angeles, but was arrested there and deported to Tijuana.
It was Saucedo, a retired nurse and activist, who greeted Arellano at the border. The shelter ultimately bore Arellano’s first name.
As the shelter’s director, Saucedo tried to differentiate Casa Refugio Elvira from others. She placed no limit on how long people could stay, realizing it often takes much longer than a week or two for a recent deportee to figure out what to do next.
“She saw a wrong, and she tried to fix it right away,” said Enrique Morones, a border activist who worked with Saucedo and La Hermandad Mexicana, a pro-migrant nonprofit, to establish the shelter.