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At our doorstep

By Tim Dewane, Director, Central Pacific Province Shalom-JPIC

Tent in Mexico lined up against a building. Right now at our nation’s doorstep, there are thousands of individuals and families fleeing violence, oppression and poverty. People are living on the streets and in shelters along the United States border in Mexico. These individuals living on the border are trying to enter the United States through border stations, in hopes of formally applying for legal asylum.

Under the current administration's Migrant Protection Protocols commonly referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, enacted in 2019, roughly 55,000 people have been sent back to Mexico to wait for their court date. In addition, thousands of others are in Mexico under the “metering” policy, which forces asylum seekers to wait weeks or months before they can apply for asylum by being placed on a waitlist. Many are unable or afraid to go back to their homes, resulting in thousands of people stranded and forced to live on the streets of Mexico. The people are living in encampments and in shelters, often for months at a time.

Sisters Jan Gregorcich, Pam Moehring, Elizabeth Swartz, along with Tim Dewane and Marisa Limón, the Deputy Director of Hope Border Institute,.

In December 2019, Sisters Jan Gregorcich, Pam Moehring, Elizabeth Swartz, Carol Dwyer and I were able to spend time with people living under tarps on the streets near the Paso del Norte border-crossing in Juarez, Mexico. The families and people were awaiting their asylum hearing or their opportunity to apply. Sister Elizabeth coordinated our trip to the border with the assistance of Eina, a friend who has relationships with the Catholic church and shelters on both sides of the border. We were able to bring food, water, soap, baby formula and candy to several people living in the streets.

We had the privilege of getting to know one inspirational woman. She and her two children have been living under tarps on the streets of Juarez for two months. Her family wants to seek asylum in the United States in order to escape violence. In addition to caring for her two children she, clipboard in hand, also looks after the others who share her street space. In fact, she took responsibility for distributing the medicine we brought to help address the illnesses many children are experiencing. Can you imagine being 23-years-old, forced to live on the street with your two children, while you wait months for an appointment? How bad must things have been back home to embark on this journey of hardship and uncertainty? What faith she must have.

Shalom is the term we use to describe our SSND international network for justice, peace, and integrity of creation. Learn more about Shalom and their commitment.

During the time Tim and the sisters were in El Paso, a report on border observatory was released. Read 2020 Situation Report: Remain In Mexico.


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