They come in droves. Every day migrants deported from the United States are brought by bus to the Deconcini gate in Nogales, Sonora. And just as the US close their gates on them, we open our doors twice a day to provide them meals, clothing, and basic medical care as they journey home. The Casa Nazaret provides shelter for vulnerable women migrants traveling alone or with children.
The journey home can mean a return to their families in Mexico or Central America, or another attempt to reunite with their loved ones residing in the US. Studies roughly estimates 25% of the US’s three million undocumented immigrants live in the states of Arizona and California.
Jesus Morales* arrives distraught at our Comedor, the feeding center of the Kino Border Initiative. He says that he is more worried about his mother, 86 years old, living alone in her home in California. His only sister lives in Chicago with a family of her own. He said he has no family in Mexico, and he is the only one supporting her. Worse, her mother is a diabetic. He gives her the insulin shot daily.
The ministry to unauthorized migrants centers in a faith that welcomes strangers and cares for them as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ commandment of love extols hospitality to those who are affected by the crisis of deportation. Moreover, the ministry protects the value of the family. Border policies have broken these family ties that are invaluable in creating a humane society.
However, responding to the problem of migration requires more than just a feeding center, a clinic or a shelter. The crisis is a bi-national concern brought by unjust border policies of both the US and Mexico. The challenge then is to have programs among those affected by the US and Mexican border and migration policies in both sides of the border. That cannot be done without collaboration.
The Kino Border Initiative works and thrives with a network of partners in both sides. In Arizona and Mexico, we work with the Archdiocese of Hermosillo (Mexico) and the Diocese of Tucson in Arizona. Our energetic manager and cook of our kitchen, Sr. Lorena Leyva ME, is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist. The sisters also manage the Casa Nazaret. The Jesuit community dedicated to the mission are from the California and the Mexican Province and supported by the US Jesuit Refugee Service. Other groups from other faith traditions assist us like the Samaritans and the No Mas Muerte (No More Deaths) who provide clothing and help at the clinic.
The experience of volunteering in the ministry of migrants allows one to journey into the deeper part of our humanity, where one discovers a place where we are all connected. Like a deep river that unites us, in the very inhospitable place. One discovers that the migrants’ needs are the same as one’s own aspirations. They are worth fighting for.
Printed on David’s** shirt says it all: Human dignity has no borders. La Dignidad humana no tiene fronteras.
*not his real name
**David is a volunteer of the organization, No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths).
For further information about The Kino Border Initiative here’s the link.
Fr. Sean Carroll SJ
Kino Border Initiative
PO Box 159
Nogales, AZ 85628-0159