Bad news and good news at No More Deaths

Nine volunteers for No More Deaths, the Arizona migrant aid organization I volunteered with in January 2018, faced federal charges stemming from their humanitarian work on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. The bad news is that earlier this year, four of those volunteers were found guilty. The good news is that last week, the charges against four other volunteers were dropped.

Read this article for a brief summary. You may also be interested in this CNN article by one of the volunteers whose charges were dropped (after the article was written), as it presents a more personal take on the events that have transpired. And as for Scott Warren, the volunteer whose case I was personally involved with (still no word whatsoever from the Border Patrol on the status of my computer and other personal items): His felony trial is now scheduled for May.

(In the map of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge below, the red dots are the locations of known migrant deaths. There are, of course, many more that are unknown.)

Stand lovingly and firmly against Trump’s “state of emergency” declaration

I generally keep “action alert” posts on this blog to a minimum, but I feel that Donald Trump’s absurd and dangerous declaration of a “state of emergency” today cannot go without response.

The most eloquent response I’ve seen is from Jim Wallis (pictured below), a Christian pastor and founder of the faith-based activist group Sojourners. I’ve always appreciated his moral clarity, fair-minded engagement with different points of view, and kind but firm prophetic witness. His statement about Trump’s declaration is so on the nose that I would like to simply paste the bulk of it here. It includes instructions for how to call your elected representatives, which I highly recommend we all do. Let our voices be heard!

Here is Wallis’s statement: Continue reading “Stand lovingly and firmly against Trump’s “state of emergency” declaration”

A more loving approach to “bad hombres”

We’ve all heard Donald Trump’s rants about “bad hombres” from ruthless gangs like MS-13 flooding over the US southern border. Of course, most of it is nonsense. MS-13 started in Los Angeles before being exported to El Salvador and other Latin American countries, and the Border Patrol’s own statistics show that the percentage of 2017 undocumented border crossers who were MS-13 members was 0.075 percent. Hardly a flood.

That being said, these gangs are real and do serious harm to people (it’s ironic that I’m writing this on the day that the notorious Mexican drug lord El Chapo was convicted in New York), so it’s reasonable to ask what can be done about them. The answer to that question is many faceted, but here I’d like to focus on one man who knows the problem from the inside. He is Gerardo Lopez, one of the leaders of an organization called Homies Unidos.

Continue reading “A more loving approach to “bad hombres””

Staying warm in Mexico

I haven’t had too much to report since returning from Tijuana. I’ve been looking into other ways to be of service and there are some possibilities lining up for the future, but right now I’m on a bit of a break. We’re enjoying some quality time with Patricia’s daughter Marina, who is visiting.

Of course I’ve been following US news, including reports of the bitter cold in the Midwest. We have friends in Chicago and in Michigan, and thank goodness they’re all doing fine. Meanwhile, it’s 63 degrees here as I write this. 🙂

As always, I’m inspired by the many acts of kindness we see in response to events like the cold snap. Here’s an article about one such act of kindness in Chicago:

Good Samaritan Helps 70 Homeless People Stay In Hotel During Polar Vortex

Volunteer days in Tijuana

I’ve returned home after eighteen days in Tijuana. I’m in our Mexico City apartment and will be taking the bus back in Xalapa Monday afternoon. My time in Tijuana was unforgettable, truly life-changing. After taking some time to reflect, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about the experience as a whole. But before I do that, I thought I’d share a little about what my volunteer days at the Proyecto Salesiano were like.

Continue reading “Volunteer days in Tijuana”

Happy New Year from Tijuana!

We had a nice celebration here, including a Mass (first Catholic Mass I’ve ever seen with a salsa number), a nice dinner, and even karaoke. (I did one of my favorite karaoke songs, Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog.”) I, Patricia, and everyone at the Proyecto Salesiano in Tijuana wish all of you a happy, loving, and miraculous new year!

The wall, the seagull, and the rainbow

On Christmas Day, I went with some of my volunteer colleagues to see the infamous Tijuana beach border wall. (Well, technically it’s a fence, but for all practical purposes it’s a wall.) While there, I took the picture below, in which you can see a seagull, a Border Patrol truck on the US side, and a rainbow that ends more or less above the place where the seagull is standing. It struck me later that this picture is symbolic in so many ways of the situation we’re facing at the US-Mexico border, and the situation we face in general as human beings.

Continue reading “The wall, the seagull, and the rainbow”