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  • Martes, 24 Mayo 2022
  • María Auxiliadora

Dire Need

Lines of division… separation of peoples… manmade borders. The border between Mexico and the United States has been the great hurdle of those seeking a better life.

Julio 2013 | Kathy Schneider, odn (Greensburg, Indiana) | Justicia y Solidaridad

Like in many locations where people are on the move to find the basic necessities of life, there are those who have turned the desperation of others into profit, a business that costs thousands of dollars from those crossing border and annually hundreds of lives.

View of the U.S. through hole in the border wall
This month, four sisters got a glimpse of the border experience. Through a growing collaboration between the Company of Mary and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the small border town of Douglas, Arizona is growing into a center for mission experiences and a place to educate others in compassionate responses. The School Sisters of Notre Dame, through their Mission Awareness Program, provide organized opportunities for groups to participate in ministry experiences that focus on the needs that have arisen along the U.S.-Mexican border. The Company of Mary will soon bring groups of young adults organized through the Missions Office of the Diocese of Orange in California as well as through the youth and young adult program of the province.

The situation of the border has become critical since the 1995 launching of “Operation Gatekeeper,” a program designed to radically reduce the numbers crossing the border by funneling the traffic to limited and significantly more dangerous areas. The numbers crossing the border in 2012 have dropped while the number of deaths has steadily increased. Just from 2011 to 2012, the number of deaths has increased by 27%. In response to the situation, groups such as No More Deaths and Humanitarian Border Solutions have sent volunteers to supply water stops in the Mexican and U.S. side of the extensive Sonoran Desert and to send others to comb the desert to rescue those who have been left behind.

We were able to join one of those trips along the Mexican side of the border. The ministry is a simple one: giving bags of food items high in protein, water and socks and giving an opportunity for those waiting to cross to share a little of their story. Migrants spoke of home, family they left, family they hoped to see in some distant city in the U.S. They had already faced great danger and would face even worse as most will walk days through temperatures that can reach 110 F (43.3 C) in the summer and below freezing in the winter. Many, sadly, will not make it and are left to die by border guides, better known as coyotes or polleros. “La necesidad” as one woman put it, drives them to risk the dangers.

We who walked the 2 miles with backpacks full of supplies only got a taste of what the journey through heat, cactus, thorny brush, and often violence means for those who undertake it. We look forward to the groups of young adults who will soon come to learn of the tragedies that result from poverty, corruption, and political expediency that ultimately result in the dehumanization of others.

Kathy Schneider: adjunct professor at the University of California, Riverside Modern European History.



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