Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Spanjers shares on a migrant-led public action to restore asylum protections at the border in Mexico.

In the spirit and on the eve of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Kino Border Initiative and Save Asylum coalition invited faith leaders (both vowed religious and lay) throughout the U.S. to travel to Nogales, Arizona  Sonora to participate in a migrant-led public action to restore asylum protections this Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 2 p.m..

Sister Carla Riach and I joined Sister Marlita Henseler along with the Kino Border Initiative staff, Bishop Edward Weisenburger and most importantly some 400+ migrant and refugee families in a March to bring attention to the Title 42 expulsion policy  which has effectively closed the US border to nearly all asylum seekers based on the misapplication of an obscure, 75-year-old public health law…. US law gives asylum seekers the right to seek asylum upon arrival in the United States, even if they arrive without inspection or prior authorization.

In the Catholic Social Justice course I teach we learn about Catholic Social Teaching regarding Migration/Immigration from Pope John XXXIII

Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence with the confines of his own state. When there are just reasons in favor or it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and to take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership in the human family, nor the citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of women and men. “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”), Pope John XXIII, 1963, #25.

Among man’s personal rights, we must include his right to enter a country in which he hopes to be able to provide more fittingly for himself and his dependents. It is therefore the duty of the state officials to accept immigrants and—so far as the good of their own community, rightly understood permits, to further the aims of those who may wish to become members of a new society. “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”), Pope John XXIII, 1963, #106

Part of the Rally was a litany praying for parents, children, single mom’s and dads by name with the response in Spanish “Derecho Nacido” “We are born with Rights.” We heard stories from asylum seekers such as Paula:

We come from our country trying to find a response to our worries that people will harm my family–a response upon seeing us threatened with violence against us and my children upon seeing the lack of concern from our authorities. Because we didn’t have enough money and becasue we didn’t agree to what we were forced to do, our material things and our children’s and family’s security were stolen from us.

We arrived here not knowing anything neither where to go or where to be since it was early in the morning. We stayed in unsafe hotels thinking we would be safe and have a roof over our heads overnight, but we were unfortunately wrong–it was the opposite. In order to rent the room you have to leave your IF with all your person information. With our information they try to scam us saying that our relatives are outside or that they’re lookin for us. Seeing these situations our only solution is to ask for support from the authorities in the US and the only thing we get in response is a resound NO and a rejection or worse still mockery from the guards when they see us start to cry. When we ask them for asylum, they don’t even want to listen to us. They deny us help.. I don’t know if they really don’t understand us or if they just pretend not to understand us to avoid us and yell at us. They run us out of the area complaining that if we stay there too long, we’ll die of hunger and tell us to get out of the way since we’re blocking the way for their people from their country. They runs us off with rude words and tell us to go sleep on the benches outside, exposing our children further. We go back and ask for help because of the lack of safety when exposed outside, but we get the same response from them or worse, they threaten to send us back to our country of origin to which we can’t return.

Giving up with those kinds of responses, we tried to settle along the border so that our children could have something to eat, but everything is too hard for us because they want to put both men and boys to word doing illegal jobs or they want to get to cross illegally for a high price or they might scam your relatives. They force us women not to want to go outside for work because of harassment and persecution. We are all in danger because of a lot of risks from people who take advantage of us knowing that we are vulnerable.