As we drove through El Paso and into New Mexico, we approached the U.S.- Mexico Border and the people become sparse and the city distant. Fr. Bob led us to a stretch of land in front of the wall, where the interstate was just a mile or two away. He told us to go into the desert for fifteen minutes and find a place where we could not see each other and to spend a brief window of time in solidarity with people we may never even meet. I walked through the sand and past the tumbleweeds and settled in a spot so that I could not see the highway or buildings in the distance. I could not see the wall; I could not hear my friends. I could only see the brittle bushes surrounding me and feel the grit of sand in my teeth. While I cannot equate this brief reflection to the experience of a migrant fleeing violence and poverty, I can attest to the feeling of desolation that I was immersed in near the border wall.
I tried to think about what those travelling through the desert might feel, both the physical loneliness and emotional disconnection. I struggled spending less than half an hour in complete solitude – a testament to the strength, endurance, and will of those who spend months migrating. Within the time of this meditation, I was not able to find a solution for the broken system of immigration, nor was I able to truly understand just how desperately some people need to leave their home countries. However, I was able to connect my own humanity with those in flight. I cannot contemplate for what reason I have been born into such immense and glorious freedom in the United States, but I do believe that those seeking refuge for their own lives as well as their families deserve the same liberty. Sitting in the desert when I could not see anything or anyone else blessed me with a translucent parallel to the migrant struggle.
While all I could do as a I sat in the desert was pray for those in true flight and hardship, I could come back, look at the border wall, and at beautiful El Paso and know that there is an injustice present when people have no choice but to run away from everything they know back home. As I take back my experiences from El Paso, I have a more concrete understanding of the necessity for immigration reform and the upholding of dignity to all those in desolation.
Class of 2019
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