Monday, July 14, 2014

Crisis at the Border- Update from Sr. Judy Stephens- Concordia

 Mural painted by visitor to Columban Fathers house.  S. Esther
Pineda is seated
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas organized a trip to El Paso in early July to learn firsthand the reality of the situation at the border now.  The group included seven women:  a laywoman from Topeka, KS, a CSJ from Wichita, KS, and five CSJ’s from Concordia.

The week spent in El Paso was a powerful one.  Our visits to Annunciation House, Opportunity Center, the Farmworkers Center, the Columban Fathers and Pius X parish brought us into the
Detention Center for children in east El Paso.  We spent the
afternoon there with 35 children, ages 5 - 15
midst of the crisis of unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  We were able to spend time with children in the detention centers through a program organized by Pius X parish and immigration officials.  It was a heart-breaking but meaningful experience that we will not forget. 

The situation at the El Paso/ Juarez border is very fluid.  When ICE [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] has processed children who have been picked up by the Border Patrol and needs assistance providing for the children, they contact agencies willing to care for them until family members claim them or they are moved to Detention Centers.  These children are placed in process for deportation, unless they can prove before the immigration judge (which may be years from now) that they are refugees in need of asylum. For a while El Paso was overwhelmed with plane loads of children and was in dire need of volunteers.  When we left El Paso on July 8, the situation was improving.  Ruben Garcia from Annunciation House has been the contact person for ICE in this process. 
This group from Pius X parish in El Paso works with children from

Our convent at 1837 Grandview Ave. has been opened for volunteers.  Sister Ida Berresheim from Carondelet, St. Louis has generously offered to be there and coordinate activities.  She is currently on the board for Annunciation House and works closely with Ruben Garcia.

If you have interest in volunteering in El Paso, please contact S. Ida at 314-630-0210.  The phone number at the convent is 915-532-7452. 

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