A famous anchorman from Univision, Jorge Ramos, has written many books about immigration, including A Country for All, The Challenge for a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era, Take a Stand, and Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History, to name a few. Once in an interview, Ramos said I feel that I am not from here or from there “Ni de aqui ni de alla.” I felt as I were in that situation while in Nogales, not from here and not from there. It is a state of limbo or uncertainty in which many Latino families live.
All we can do, it seems, is do our best to help alleviate the pain and suffering of our neighbors. There is always going to be more needs than we can we provide. We need to speak out and we need to be involved, particularly where we feel we could have impact. One cannot change the circumstances of one’s birth, but one can change and make changes to help humanity. We Latinos experience the general struggles and suffering of many families, seeking opportunities to work and to live a better life. Migrants on the Southern Border take the risk to walk the journey to arrive in the United States. As part of the Nogales immersion experience, we met and immersed ourselves in the border environment, seeking to understand the circumstances of the families. I knew what I was getting into because I have lived in Central America and I know the conditions and dangers many of these families face. Given their plight, I would also have taken the risk to cross the border.
The first day we crossed the border we went to El Comedor (Cafeteria) where we were prepared to serve breakfast and dialogue with the families. I was pleased that my partner to talk to the families was Father Mick because that made it easy to break the ice by introducing myself and El Padre Miguel. Hearing of El Padre Miguel brought smiles to the faces of the families. Seeing El Padre Miguel gave the families a sense of hope.
Have you ever experienced a pivotal moment that you never expected, but then happened in an instant? For me, that powerful moment came later that first day when I met a young woman with a baby boy. Immediately I wondered: Is this woman my son’s sister; is this boy the nephew of my son? While living in Central America twelve years ago, I adopted a baby boy. I was very lucky and am blessed to raise a great boy. After so many years being away from activism and advocacy for immigrants, the encounter with the woman and her boy brought back all the memories and feelings that I was not expecting at all. Little did I know that I was going to feel the same every day.
Another emotional moment came when sitting in the court house hearing the judge sentencing and deporting undocumented immigrants. I was paying attention to every name called. I thought that if I heard the biological last names of my son I would be able to sponsor his sibling. I believed that in this group of brilliant scholars, including a lawyer among us, if I needed to speak up, I could count on my colleagues; they would have my back and support my decision.
I think that the whole time I was with the families and my colleagues, tears were rolling down my face. I felt incapable of helping, or assisting in some way, with so many families in need.
As I said at the beginning, all we can do is the best we can do. For example, when back at the Comedor, a young man arrived. His story was that he was born in Houston, but he did not have his birth certificate. That is when I saw my colleagues working together to search online for his birth certificate. My colleague expedited the process and paid, with her personal credit card, the fee to make sure the birth certificate would arrive at the Kino address. In another case, one of my colleagues entertained and played with children while their parents helped at El Comedor. These actions exemplify doing the best one can under difficult circumstances.
The immigration policies, aqui y alla, are inhumane. This is a humanitarian problem and my wish is for resolution sooner than later.