From Mexican border to Australian territorial waters

Cafeteria on the border

I have been here in the USA for the last month. I am presently spending the week down on the Mexican border at the Kino Border Initiative, which is a Jesuit-sponsored cross border project at Nogales, writes Fr Frank Brennan SJ.

The Jesuit community members sleep on the Arizona side of the border and walk across the border to Sonora each day for work. 

At the comedor (soup kitchen), new deportees from the USA and those coming through Mexico trying to run the gauntlet back into the USA can come for two meals a day. Kino workers document human rights violations. Other NGOs such as the Samaritans and No Mas Muertes (no more deaths) come and provide practical assistance, including a telephone service so those on the run can check in with family and friends back home or across the border. 

The Samaritans include many Arizona residents well used to encountering migrants without visas making their way across the desert on foot. The Samaritans provide food and water, and even Vaseline for the feet of the weary. Their T shirts proclaim 'Humanitarian assistance is not a crime.' Many of them are heading to DC at the end of the month for civil disobedience outside the White House protesting US immigration policies. 

Each day at Kino, Mexican nuns provide spiritual consolation, inviting world weary people in flight to play the sorts of games we all played in primary school, doing contortions with our hands and designs with pieces of paper. 

On Sunday, Fr Sean Carroll SJ, the executive director of Kino, celebrates Mass (pictured). Those on the run freely share their heart rending stories. The whole ethos of the place is to provide a humanitarian space for people in desperate circumstances. No matter what walls are built, no matter what draconian push back policies are adopted, there is no way the USA can seal this border. The Congress is deadlocked. Obama has been labelled the 'Deporter in Chief'. Still the people come.

FULL STORY Mexican border reflections on Australian asylum seeker policy (Eureka Street)

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