You might remember that last year I was part of a pilgrimage to the Arizona/Mexico border to find out more about the struggles of immigration. This past week I read an update from Sr. Norma Pimentel, a fierce advocate for human rights and dignity for all who wait in limbo at the border – in her case, the Texas/Mexico border. The right to present oneself for asylum at a border is a part of international law, law that the U.S. now either evades or downright ignores. In January, the U.S. instituted new Migrant Protection Protocols; the name itself is a mockery given that the last thing these guidelines do is protect migrants. Sr. Norma is one of the strongest advocates for these forgotten people. She writes:
Our camp is a makeshift “tent city” filled with about 1,500 vulnerable women, men and children awaiting rulings on their applications for asylum in the United States. These families are living in donated tents at the mercy of extreme weather. Here, the temperatures can rise above 100 degrees, and when it rains, the downpours knock down their only refuge and leave them in mud pits. Imagine living in such uncertainty, where even such basics as running water and a place to shower are nonexistent; where you have to depend on outside organizations for food, which you have to cook over a campfire. Like the prisons and nursing homes that have been breeding grounds for the virus in the United States, the camp is crowded with people who for now are not going anywhere. The most important thing to realize about the larger situation is that it simply should not be happening. The Migrant Protection Protocols fail to address people with dignity. We should not have people forced to wait for asylum — trying to find safety for themselves and their families — while camped outside in the elements for months at a time. It is contrary to our laws and the dictates of humanity. The story of these asylum seekers has faded from the front pages of U.S. newspapers and from television screens but the cruel and unfair situation continues. While I know many people in many places are dealing with so much, I urge you not to look away from the border in this moment. Do not ignore the suffering occurring here. It is time that we put an end to it. Until that happens, we will continue to help those who are defenseless, whose only real “crime” is trying to seek protection for themselves and their families.
This week, I invite you to find ways to refuse to look away. One place to start is this brief TED Talk that will introduce you to Sr. Norma and to some children of God who are waiting for justice: