support refugee relief on U.S. – Mexico border
“When I speak to congregations, everybody understands the gospel meaning of welcoming the stranger.” So said Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, when I spoke to him last week. While the moral imperative to welcome the stranger is clear in the abstract, it is often difficult to put into practice for many. Father Garcia has been welcoming migrants and refugees for nearly 40 years at his center in the heart of his downtown El Paso, at the geographic center of the U.S.-Mexico border. The humble building on a triangular lot has provided shelter to more than 100,000 migrants. Today he considers the political climate chilling and our immigration system increasingly unjust with devastating consequences to families.
About a month ago, Annunciation House was receiving roughly 1,000 refugees a week; that number has slowed to a trickle. The U.S. has moved to a detention model for many asylum seekers, and Annunciation House usually receives migrants who have recently been released from detention. Mexico is ill-equipped to handle the global refugees that continue to pour into their country headed north, after a trek across the Central American jungle, often through as many as eight countries.