Nogales, AZ - Voices from Kino Border Initiative Border Event

Nogales Visit on the Border

Written by Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, DC

June 12, 2013

We arrived early to meet the folks waiting for us in Nogales on the border. The mayor of U.S. Nogales greeted us, but the mayor of Mexican Nogales was held up in border-crossing traffic. The mayor told us about the dire sufferings of family separation and discrimination at the border. On the day prior to our arrival, young DREAMers had come to touch, embrace and kiss their mothers through the fence. They had not seen their moms in years because the moms had been deported.

Then the mayor told of a local father, the father and husband of citizens. He had his green card and was working hard to raise his family to be good citizens. He had been repeatedly approached by an undercover officer who tried to sell him food stamps. Initially, he was too smart to fall for this ploy because he knew the purchase of food stamps was a deportable offense and he did not buy them from the “seller.”

Then things changed. One day, his neighbor was deported and the neighbor’s family fell on hard times. He purchased the food stamp card for them so that they might eat. He was promptly arrested and ultimately deported for his compassion and courage. I wondered how many native-born Americans would take such a risk for his/her neighbors.

After we heard of other acts of inhumanity, indignity and suffering caused by a broken immigration system, we walked along the border fence. One can look right through the openings and see our Mexican neighbors. We inhaled the same air as those across the border fence but we knew we were not the same. We breathed the air of privilege while they choked on poverty and separation from loved ones. Sr Pat and I walked solemnly together, taking it all in. Our hearts were growing heavy.

All of a sudden, as if they sensed our heartache, the mariachi band started playing a lively, happy song. They sang, they smiled and we all started to dance down the hill. It occurred to Sr. Pat and me that these are a celebratory people who, despite unimaginable suffering, still know and rejoice in the Light of Christ. Their faith breeds a contagious hope and I recalled why I ride this crazy bus. Deep in my heart, I do believe, that we, with He, shall overcome someday.