Three bishops from along the U.S.-Mexico border joined migrants last week in celebrating Las Posadas, a Latin American Christmas tradition that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn in Bethlehem.

Bishop Eugenio Lira of Matamoros, Mexico; Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas; and Auxiliary Bishop Mario Avilés of Brownsville, took part in the tradition, which was held Dec. 13 at a migrant shelter run by the Mexican Diocese of Matamoros, which lies opposite Brownsville across the Mexican-U.S. border.

The traditional tamales, punch and sweets were served and piñatas broken as part of the celebration. The Knights of Columbus donated food for the occasion, and also made a financial contribution to support the shelter, which is named after Saints Juan Diego and Francis of Assisi.

At the event, Bishop Lira said he appreciated “the very beautiful sign of solidarity from the Knights of Columbus, who have gotten together and made an effort to support this migrant center, where we seek to extend a hand to our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have had to leave their homes and have come to seek the American dream.”

The “Remain in Mexico” policy, announced in January 2019 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, requires asylum seekers from Mexico to remain in border cities such as Matamaros while their cases are processed by immigration courts – a procedure that may take years.

More than 50,000 asylum seekers, mainly families with children, are estimated to have been affected by the new policy over the past year.