In the northern part of Donna, Maria Hernandez lives with her five children in a yellow mobile home. One of its shattered windows is boarded up; an air conditioner, propped up by a wooden pole, hangs from another. Among the items sitting on the ground outside are a broken toilet, a toddler’s car seat, and a mop.
Last Thursday, about 25 families exited a bus near a U.S.-Mexico border bridge near downtown El Paso. They had been flown in from south Texas, where they were apprehended after attempting to enter the country. Now, they faced expulsion into Ciudad Juarez, 800 miles from where they initially crossed.
A recent analysis by The New York Times found evidence for what many Catholic organizations and other entities warned about at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States — the faster spread of the coronavirus among those detained in facilities for immigration violations.
Near the end of S. 15th Street in Hidalgo, Texas, the road turns from smooth pavement to pothole-ridden dirt. Both sides of the street are no longer lined with local neighborhoods, but instead battered fences at the edge of desolate fields.
When the priest of the lone Catholic parish in the U.S.-Mexico border city of Donna, Texas, considers the present situation at the border, his first concern is for the unaccompanied minors trying to gain entry to the United States. Father Yuantoro presides over St. Joseph Catholic Church, which serves about 3,000 Catholic families — part of a total population of around 16,500 — in the south Texas city.
As migrants from Mexico and Central America flee north simultaneously, the United States is deporting hundreds of migrants a day, advocates on the Mexico side of the border say they’re bearing the brunt of both realities.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador began bilateral cooperation talks March 1 with humor, a focus on limiting immigration to the U.S. and talk about Our Lady of Guadalupe.
While immigration remains a political flashpoint in the United States, Catholic Church leaders continue their efforts to stand with migrants in the face of opposition and will once more come together on both sides of the border with a Mass this weekend.
It’s a pastoral letter that pulls no punches, goes far into the past and continues up to the recent present of racism at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Five Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn discovered that when they wore those official-looking clothes for a day in early August during a trip they made to a shelter in El Paso, Texas. They were helping immigrants who had just been in ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody.