Rosa's story: As of August 7, 2015 Rosa has been living in sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church for one year! Incredible! Rev. Allison Harrington, the pastor, of this church published an open letter to members of Congress earlier this month. http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/250595-family-values-isnt-just-a-hashtag.
I met Rosa this past winter when I volunteered with various humanitarian aid organizations in the Tucson area. Rosa lives in one room at the church with access to shower and bathroom facilities but cannot leave the church compound for fear of deportation. Her husband and two children visit her frequently but it is not the same as having Mom home with them.
The photo (above left) of me holding a sign "We Stand with Rosa" was part of the campaign to increase awareness of her situation in the city and to gather more support for her case. t is sad that six months later, nothing has changed.
MY FEELINGS ABOUT THE CURRENT U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
Here is my list:
MIGRANTS CONTINUE TO DIE IN THE ARIZONA DESERT AND THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
A recent article in the Eastern Arizona Courier newspaper tells of a decrease in deaths but not in immigrant crossings.
"For 2014 in the Tucson sector, which makes up most of southern Arizona and Yuma, the number of immigrant bodies discovered by Border Patrol was 110 bodies. That number is down from the 200 bodies discovered the previous year in 2013.
For 2014 in the Texas sectors, which are made up of the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, El Paso, Del Rio and Big Bend, Border Patrol discovered 186 bodies."
“In Arizona, people are immigrating in more remote areas of the desert and not the typical border towns,” Lawson said. “Our mission was to protect and make the border towns safer, and essentially, the Border Patrol presence has pushed the migrants into more remote areas of the desert.”
The Samaritan and No More Death groups that patrol the migrant trails daily - currently in temperatures of 106 degrees and higher, report an increase in finding dehydrated people as well as other kinds of illness.
THE MEDITERRANEAN CRISIS:
In February of this year two Italian Protestant pastors who work with refugees in Italy visited the USA-Mexico border. Rev. Massimo told us - "you have the desert and we have the sea - and both are deadly." See today's New York Times article on the most recent deaths of people crossing from Libya to Italy. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/world/europe/40-migrants-found-dead-in-sea-rescue.html?ref=todayspaper
Reflection: What can I do, what can you do? My answer was to go to the border, accompany the newly arrived immigrants, mostly women and children and then tell their stories. In Portland, Oregon I am being trained to assist immigrants gather their documents to apply for DACA right now and in the future, if the U.S. courts permit, for President Obama's Administrative Relief program announced last November, but blocked by a Texas federal judge in February, to be implemented. Then many more people will apply for Deferred Action for Parents of Resident and U.S. born Children (DAPA) and expanded DACA.
Open our hearts, open our eyes and I hope, to see immigrants as people just like us who are seeking a better way of life. We in the North whether Europe or the United States have the resources to accept and share with immigrants.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?