The view becomes hazier the closer you get, A perspective from the border Immigration in the USA

I thought I would have had more to say. After all I live just a few miles from the border. If a wall goes up I will see it often.  I hear as much Spanish as I do English when I am out and immigrants make up a significant portion of the patients in my clinic. My daughter and I go regularly to a shelter that houses families from all around the world. Some have eaten at my table and we have laughed together as we watched our children play.  I have heard their unthinkable stories first hand and I have delighted in the privilege of serving them in the minuscule ways that I can.

 

Immigration in the US. Liturgy of life.

 

But recent discussion of the immigration ban has left me mostly speechless. To be clear I detest the idea of a ban. I hate to think of a destitute family being turned away, back to a life of poverty and violence.  My quiet is in part due due to my grief for our refugee brothers and sisters compounded with my inability to stay abreast of the latest news regarding them.

But it isn’t only this. While this ban is undoubtedly hasty and rash, I am also aware that our immigration system is broken.  And that we are a deeply divided nation with an ever shifting sense of moral virtue. Undoubtedly the way we care for those who seek the safety of our borders will, in many ways, direct the future of our country.  Seeing this issue first hand I have had a hard time simplifying my stance on immigration policy as #refugeeswelcome. Truthfully I don’t feel at home on either end of what feels like an incredibly polarized political debate.

If we are going to sincerely address this issue as a culture we need to find a crossroads between welcoming human life in all forms and recognizing the legitimate risk that this involves. I believe that hospitality at all costs is God’s call for us. But the way we as a nation play this out is not so clear. The reality is that hospitality requires a boundary line. You must know who you are and what defines you in order to extend who you are to someone else.  Those on both sides of this issue need to be willing to learn from those who take an opposite perspective and all in between in order to remain unified as a nation, to set reasonable priorities and ultimately to care most effectively for those in need.

To fill the void of my speechlessness I am sharing an article that was recently published in our local paper about the immigrant shelter where I volunteer and a family from Honduras.

I hope this will be the first part in a series. In the coming weeks (or let’s face it probably months at the pace I move) as I share stories and information about immigration in the US.

 

Valley Morning Star

Honduran Woman Recounts her Journey to the U.S

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017 10:30 pm

SAN BENITO — It was a quiet Monday morning when the phone rang at La Posada Providencia, south of San Benito.

It was an official at the Department of Homeland Security, calling to ask if the shelter had room for a severely-injured Honduran woman and her 3-year-old son.

The woman, Blanca Rosa, had just presented herself to authorities in Brownsville and had requested asylum in the United States. She had been involved in an auto accident in Mexico, leaving her with two fractured elbows and multiple bruises and abrasions.

Jerico, the son that arrived with her, was not injured in the crash, but a 6-year-old son was killed.

Another son, age 15, was left hospitalized in Mexico and under the care of a local pastor.

“It’s probably one of the worst cases that I’ve seen,” said Sister Zita Telkamp, director at La Posada Providencia. “We had a case similar to that in March and usually once a year someone comes here like that.”

Blanca and her youngest son were processed by federal authorities and then released to the care of La Posada Providencia, a Catholic ministry for people in crisis from around the world, who are seeking legal refuge in this country.

It was there that she recounted her journey and the reasons she left Honduras.

“We lived in a small town that was under the control of the drug cartel,” said Blanca. “They took over many of the small businesses and homes in the village and charged everyone a monthly protection fee.”

In October, Blanca was standing at a bus stop with a neighbor who had refused to pay the fee. As they were waiting for the bus to arrive, Rosa says a cartel member approached them.

“He walked right up to my neighbor and just shot her dead,” recalled Blanca. “As he was leaving, he turned to me and said he would return on Christmas Eve and kill me if I didn’t pay up.”

During the next several weeks, Blanca — living in fear — made preparations to leave her country. She sold what little she owned and by the first week of December, Blanca and her three sons were on their way to the United States. The crash happened six days into their journey and it took another two days for Blanca to arrive in Brownsville, where she turned herself over to authorities.

“I arrived at La Posada on December 19th,” said Blanca. “All we had were the clothes on our backs and our immigration papers, which I carried in a plastic bag.”

Blanca is one of more than 8,500 people who have passed through the doors of La Posada Providencia. Established by the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1989, the shelter ministers to people who are fleeing political and religious persecution, extreme poverty, famine and natural disasters. All of the ministry’s clients have been processed by immigration authorities

La Posada provides the refugees with safety, hope, and a way forward. It provides immediate and tangible support in the form of food, shelter, clothing, medical supplies and care. LPP also provides individualized case management, transportation to clinics, legal aid and social services.

The refugees also have access to on-site communication resources, paperwork/translation assistance, employment preparation, English as a second language and life skills education.

“Transitioning them into American life is one of our main ministries,” said Telkamp, “We feel that if they’re going to be productive citizens and they’re going to establish themselves for the rest of their lives in the United States, they have to be integrated into the American culture.”

La Posada Providencia is one of 20 agencies in the Valley supported by donations to AIM Charities. The non-profit charity was established three years ago by AIM Media Texas, which publishes the Valley Morning Star, The Monitor, The Brownsville Herald, Mid Valley Town Crier, El Nuevo Heraldo, El Extra and Coastal Current.

AIM Media Texas absorbs all administrative costs associated with the charity, ensuring 100 percent of the public’s donations goes directly to the charitable agencies and the people they serve.

“Many times when someone gives me $5 and says, ‘It’s not much,’ I reply that I’m grateful because it purchases five loaves of bread,” said Sister Zita. “We’re just grateful for AIM and the money we received last year. We stretched our dollar and it has gone a long way.”

Blanca and Jerico have since been reunited with their husband and father in Chicago. She agreed to share her story in hopes that it would help others. “I wanted people to know the situation in Honduras,” said Rosa. “I want people to know the cartels are actively threatening and killing people. If I had stayed, there’s a good chance I would be killed. At least I’m alive and I have an opportunity to live.”

 

You can link to the original article here.

If you feel compelled to give to an organization that is helping new immigrants first hand please go here.

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4 Comments

  • kristy Reply

    oh sister. I’m with you. I am so very frustrated with tweets when I know stories. Just heard a new one last week, of a couple of people who desperately want to be in the United States, but are not yet. I am frustrated that amidst all this talk of walls and bans, we hear nothing about reform in a very broken system.
    sigh.
    keep talking.

    • egjarrett Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts and yes I really feel like knowing the issues first hand in many ways makes it harder to know how to answer the questions, it’s one thing to have an idea about how to fix something from 1,000 miles away but when it is a person and they are staring you in the face it is harder. So grateful for your work!

  • Shannon Reply

    I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this issue, as you are and always have been more informed on it than I. In theory I know that open borders are not the answer, but I feel like the whole issue is so complicated and I just want to help those in most dire need. I would really like to be educated on the issue. Thankful you plan to continue exploring it!

    • egjarrett Reply

      Thanks Shannon, yes I hope I can continue to explore it. I need it for myself and I know others are interested, it is such a complicated topic. For me, I have had to think about a separation of church and state to help me at least approach it. We as the church are called to love sacrificially even if we lose our lives in the process. But the main goal of politicians is to do what is best to preserve and protect the American people which is also a noble and respectable goal though it will often lead to a different decision than for those who are motivated primarily by our Christian faith. Seeing this distinction has helped me to respect folks who take a stance in a variety of different places and can help to look for specific policies that are favorable to both of these groups, there are differences but also some places of overlap.

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