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Jueves, 22 Agosto 2019 21:23

Migration in the Nogales-Tucson Area

Written by Bob Doyle
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Bob Doyle – Chicago Chapter

Paying respects to migrants who died about 5 miles south of Green Valley, Arizona

A pilgrimage in the desert. The desert should not be a death sentence, but the government knows the southwestern border is dangerous for migrants—and wants it that way. Some 8,000 people attempting to enter the United States have died in this region since the 1990s.

An adolescent’s migration ended here in 2009.
One gift for the journey found in the desert.

After our walk in the desert to pay respects to a few of the migrants who died about two miles from our guide’s home, we shared in the love of those who gave their migrating family members a gift for the journey. We have no idea how many wonderful people were lost here in the desert.

The Monastery. Our border visit began with an orientation at the Tucson Benedictine Monastery, a site sold and vacant until it was converted for use as a sanctuary by Catholic Community Services. There are two orientations a week for the 100 volunteers needed daily to work 4- to 8-hour shifts. About 280 workers help with kitchen duties. Most migrants coming to the border through Nogales are from Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras.

During orientation at “The Monastery,” we visited the art therapy room, where the art therapist helped us see how it benefits migrants. With an abundance of art resources for migrants of all ages, a team of therapists volunteers to provide this service.

Being in ‘The Monastery’ was amazing. Every minute was super intense. I grabbed a picture of a page in a notebook on a table, suggesting the website, www.justiceactivist.com. Keep this address by your computer and spend some time on the site. It is great!

One sign in the Monastery:


My dream would be a multicultural society where each woman, child, and man will be treated equally. I dream of a world where all people of all races work together. – Nelson Mandala

Another sign:

You can request a visa for humanitarian reasons
in Mexico if:

– You were a victim of crime.

– They held you somewhere against your will.

– For reasons of health or vulnerability you have to stay
    in the country. ...

Ask the hostel for information on how you can request regularization for humanitarian reasons.



The Kino Border Initiative was launched January 18 by Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Six Catholic Groups are participating. The Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist are helping the Jesuits from the California Province and members from four other groups to staff the Kino Border Initiative.

The Kino Border Initiative is building a two-million-dollar shelter in Nogales. This picture was taken in January; we heard this summer that women and children are being allowed to sleep in some unfinished parts of the building but must be out in the morning to allow continued construction.


This was my first experience with a migrant family. The two boys are across from their father (in blue, lower left). The mother, her brother and his son are next to the two boys.

These four men and a young boy arrived from Honduras. This woman, from the local police office, is explaining the multi-week process of their request for asylum. It took them more than four weeks to get to Nogales, Sonora, from Honduras.


While asylum seekers are being assisted at shelters in Tucson, some 800 others in Nogales, Sonora, are waiting to present their credible fear claim in hopes of being allowed to seek asylum in the United States.  Nogales does not have enough shelters, so many find themselves sleeping on the streets, in the cemetery, wherever they can.  And their wait can be two months or more.

If the shelters are full, migrants may wait in this 12x16’ room with a very small adjacent bathroom and a blanket covering the door to the street. Women and children may wait in this room for days before space and cots are available in shelters near the Port of Entry.


Border Shooting:

“This isn’t justice,” said Analizabeth Martinez, tearing up as she spoke about a jury’s decision Monday to acquit Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz of second-degree murder in the 2012 fatal shooting of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. Swartz had shot 16 bullets through the border fence in 34 seconds on the night of Oct. 10, 2012, hitting Elena Rodriguez 10 times in the back and head.“

[The victim] wasn’t an animal. He was a person, a human life,” said Martinez, 53, of Nogales. “And after all this time his family has been waiting for justice, what brutality, what grief they must feel.”

“It’s unfortunate that a country that calls itself the most developed in the world, when it comes to imparting justice, appears to have remained in the Stone Age, violating human rights,” Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Galindo, the mayor of Nogales, said of the outcome. Galindo isn’t surprised that jurors wouldn’t convict Swartz for killing the Mexican boy, he said, but is still disappointed.


In 2005, Shura Wallin and Pastor Randy Mayer established the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans to work independently and as a complement to the Tucson Samaritans.(https://www.gvs-samaritans.org/).

Twice a month, about 60 Samaritans meet to summarize the desert visits for the previous two weeks and discuss other humanitarian needs. The Border Patrol has gone out of their way to thank the Samaritans. Many volunteers, such as the ambulance nurse and volunteer doctor, work on both sides of the border.

 Bob Doyle also recommends “US Immigration – The Basics,” a 45-minute presentation by Alyson Ball from Charlottesville, Virginia. She volunteers with an international rescue committee that resettles about 200 refugees per year. She describes immigration in general: the immigration system in this country, the laws in the US, and the roles of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice.


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