Laredo, TX - Site Visit/Border Event

Lamar Bruni Vergara Education Center in Laredo, Texas

Written by: Sister Elaine Betoncourt, CSJ

June 10, 2013

Upon arriving at 8:30 a.m. at this beautiful center, we were once again warmly welcomed by our Laredo brothers and sisters. We felt honored and delighted to learn that June 10, 2013 was proclaimed ‘Nuns on the Bus Immigration Reform Day in Laredo, Texas” by both the City of Laredo and Webb County. Mayor Raul G Salinas and Webb County Judge Danny Valdez proudly read the proclamation.

I want to share one quote from the proclamation: “Whereas, our nation’s current immigration system is broken, leaving families separated and children without their parents; weakening our economy, and not reflecting our national values, we believe our Congress must create new immigration laws that strengthen our nation’s economy and that recognize the importance of immigrants’ many contributions to the social and economic fabric of the United States of America; . .”

In addition to the mayor and the county judge, there were several other local dignitaries and clergy who came out early to meet and greet us and welcome us to Laredo.

We heard some heartrending stories, stories of immigrant women and children living in domestic violence situations, being preyed upon by fraudulent notarios who promise help but don’t deliver. We discovered that many immigrants are held hostage by their abusers, and are told that they will be reported to the immigration authorities, if they try to report any abuse. Children are witnessing all of this violence and it is feared that as they grow older they will continue a cycle of abusive behavior. THIS MUST STOP with comprehensive immigration reform NOW.

On a bright note, we learned of the wonderful work done at the Education Center by the Sisters of Mercy and their many colleagues. We heard of the good relationships and cooperation between the folks at the Center and the local police, border patrol and ICE officials who all work together to aid and protect all the people living in Laredo.

Our visit ended with a beautiful blessing for the Nuns on the Bus and for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. I was awed by the moment of profound silence in the room as each person prayed a blessing in the quiet of each one’s own heart. And I was touched by the warm affection of the children who were generous with their hugs as we departed on route to our next destination, El Paso.