Written on: September 23, 2019
Sister Diane Bardol, GNSH, has returned to El Paso, TX to work with refugees and asylum seekers coming across the border from Mexico. We will be posting the notes she sends us for you to share in this experience.
October 18, 2019
I had the good fortune to be in El Paso the weekend of Oct. 11 – 13 and attend the Teach-In called Journey for Justice jointly organized by Hope Border Institute and Latinx Catholic Leadership, a newly formed organization of young Latinos. It was also the occasion for Bishop Mark Seitz to release his very powerful letter on racism entitled Night Will Be No More. I’m forwarding it to you because at the border –
“Immigration is not the problem. White supremacy is the problem.”
This may be a new understanding, but after the August 3rd El Paso mass shooting it is quite clearly the reality. It is said that the first step to solving a problem is to name it for what it is. I believe the border communities have named it for what it is. Please read, reflect and come to your own conclusion. Read Bishop Seitz’s letter here.
October 8, 2019
These last four or five days have been very slow, almost no movement either coming in or leaving. Some may think that’s good news, but those who understand the current administration’s policies know that is bad news, very bad news!
It means those who present themselves at the border seeking asylum are being detained or denied entrance and for families that often means separation. We have a father with his two year old daughter with us. Every day he waits to hear from his wife with their 4 month old baby. They are victims of family separation meant to teach others a “lesson”.
This policy called metering allows only a certain unknown number to enter the U.S. under the guise that we cannot adequately accommodate more. In reality it’s meant to deter others from attempting to make the journey. It uses people as strategies to achieve our “zero” refugee goal.
Our violation of this law under the pretext of caring is a most hypocritical, inhumane action and must not be tolerated or misunderstood for anything less. The number one reason for these refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. is safety, most especially for their children.
In a little while, three of us are going over the bridge into Mexico at Juarez. We’ll be joining a Methodist church group to serve lunch to any of the refugees staying there hoping to get across the border into the U.S.
I will share this experience in my next communication. In the meantime pray and encourage others to understand that our border situation is politically made and if it is ever to be changed it will have to come through educated voting.
In hope, from El Paso, Sister Diane
September 29, 2019
Today, World Day for Migrants and Refugees holds very deep meaning for us at Casa Romero and Casa de los Refugiados, the other Annunciation House site. The readings for this Sunday’s liturgy, especially the first from the Prophet Amos 6: 1, 4-7 and the Gospel of Luke 16: 19-31 have meaning like never before. I invite you to reread them in the context of our current social and political milieu surrounding immigration.
Eileen Connor finishes her two week volunteer mission here and will be returning to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Besides being a great companion for me, her outgoing personality, motherly instincts and energy were an enormous gift to everyone at Casa Romero. The pictures capture a little bit of that!
In one you can see her playing “patty cake” with little Kenya And the other where she is allowing a little boy to be proud of being “helpful.”
An insight for the week –
It is not life and death, but life in death.
With love and prayers from El Paso,
Sister Diane Bardol, GNSH and Eileen Connor
September 22, 2019
This comes with much love and gratitude from me and all the beautiful guests at the Oscar Romero House in El Paso, TX. Oddly enough, it is located right next door to the ICE and Border Patrol Detention Center! You* sent me off with money for whatever needs we can answer here. So far I only bought a dozen pairs of flip flops (chancletas in Spanish) and one pair of little pink slippers which were gone before I could blink! Even in these dire situations children haven’t lost their innate joy for the “pretty”! I will buy more of those, but that’s all the store had out at that time.
Eileen Connor, Sister Bridget Connor’s sister-in-law, and I have had the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift with one day a week off which was Sunday this week. So far Border Patrol has brought an average of 30 people every day. They are families mainly from Brazil and as far as we know they are probably fleeing before their president, whom they call “loco” can claim them and their families.
Our work here is the same as it was in March at Nazareth House: Be welcoming,provide food,clothing, a shower and shelter until their sponsor sends them the ticket for the next leg of their travel. That requires a lot of walking. Last Friday the app on my iPhone calculated 5.9 miles! Lucky I’m a good walker.
I will end with a highlight of the week:
Again, the beauty of Life amid unthinkable circumstances.
“You are with us always, in my prayer and in our life’s activities” Sister Diane
(*referring primarily to the Congregation)