Latino locomotion: Francis smiles while en route to the deportation center in the back of an ICE Border Patrol truck. “How wonderful it is to spend time with these young people, who are so full of hope and energy that they are willing to risk everything on an adventure into the wilderness. Beset by danger and tested by trials, they do not despair even when they find themselves back where they started. Many of them told me they were already planning to set off again. Truly, an inspiration for the universal Church, which presses on toward heaven despite setbacks and stumbles."
Making an entrance: Pope Francis gives a happy thumbs up to United States diplomatic and immigration officials as he emerges from a cross-border tunnel into a San Ysidro Wal-Mart warehouse facility. “It was very considerate of Mr. Pope to let us know exactly when and where he would be arriving,” said ICE Commander Wally Brownout. “But of course, we still had to take him into custody. He’s a foreign national entering the United States through irregular channels, and the law is the law. When I explained that to him, he said that Pontius Pilate probably told himself the same thing. I have to admit, that stung a little."
Throughout his reign, Pope Francis has sought to emphasize the Catholic church’s outreach to the poor and suffering of the world, and his recent visit to Mexico gave him ample opportunity to do just that.
The pontiff visited a slum outside Mexico City where women were routinely slaughtered, and spoke at length in the ruined city of Juárez about perseverance in the face of a seemingly hopeless infestation of drugs and gang violence. But Vatican insiders say that not even the Pope’s closest advisers knew about his plan for the final day of his visit: a trip through an abandoned drug tunnel into the United States.
Papal pat-down: the Supreme pontiff assumes the position at the Otay Mesa immigration detention facility while a guard awaits instructions as to what exactly he is supposed to confiscate. Ultimately, Francis was permitted to keep possession of his Papal Ring, which one source described as “surprisingly blingy for someone who is such an advocate for the poor. I guess papacy has its perks.” The fancy hat, however, was removed, on the grounds that the gold tassels might been seen as indicating gang affiliation and spark a riot. The vestments he donated to a chilly youth, in keeping with Matthew 25:36: “I was naked and you clothed me."
“His Holiness has given us the slip before,” said a member of his security detail, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Several times, he has gone incognito into the streets of Rome to interact with ordinary citizens. But this was bold, even for him. Perhaps he was inspired by seeing once again the sorts of struggles he knew firsthand in Argentina."
"Jesus said, 'If anyone forces you to go one mile with him, go two miles with him,'” said the Pontiff upon emerging onto U.S. soil. "The clear message here is that we must share one another’s journey, even if it takes us to unfamiliar, even frightening places. For instance, a narrow tunnel into another country. So many Latin American Catholics have been driven by their poverty and suffering to cross into the United States, often through extra-legal channels. As the shepherd to my flock, it seemed only right that I travel that same path.”
And stay out! Pope Francis, safely on the right side of the Playas de Tijuana-Imperial Beach border fence, greets supporters while Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who arrived just in time for the Pope’s deportation, delivers an impromptu foreign policy speech on U.S.-Vatican relations. “Henry VIII knew a little something about Rome meddling with domestic issues! Trust me, Frankie, you don’t want to get your religious chocolate in my political peanut butter!"
Catholics on both sides of the immigration issue were quick to comment. “At least I’m sure he hasn’t come for my job,” said San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, who is famously friendly to immigration reform. “I mean, he appointed me.”
But Vice President (and Catholic) Joe Biden, speaking in defense of an administration that has deported immigrants at a faster rate than any in history, quipped, “The Pope put one over on us this time. But the United States has some experience with slipping into foreign countries, and maybe one day we’ll return the favor.”
Asked if he was referring to the strike force that secretly entered Pakistan to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, the Vice President merely smiled.