The U.S. – Mexico Border: Through the Eyes of a Sister

April 30, 2018

Early in the morning, Judy and Sister Adaire met Bob Kee, a member of the Samaritans of the Tucson, Arizona area. They traveled to a part of the desert where Bob showed them where he found the body of a male migrant some years ago. Later there was a cross planting in his memory.

They then drove to another area of the desert to determine if it was a good place to leave some gallon jugs of water that they brought with them. After noticing some recent foot travel in the area, they left water jugs on which they wrote a greeting, the date, and a number that would identify its placement should the jug be found in the future.

Sister Adaire leaving water jugs at the border.

May 1, 2018

The morning was spent at a welcoming center called El Comedor on the Mexican side of the border at Nogales. They served breakfast to about 60 migrant guests coming from various areas of Mexico and Central America. "It was inspiring to witness their patience, and their kindness to one another as their smiles most likely concealed fear and desperation," said Sister Adaire.

Sister Adaire at El Comedor.

The Mexican order of Sisters announced to those gathered that it is not a crime to migrate; they have the right to care for their families and seek work.

In the evening, back home in Douglas, several of the group gathered for a vigil to remember migrants who died in their journey north. Along the few blocks to the border-crossing in Douglas the name of one who died is proclaimed and the others declare “Presente” (I am here).

April 27, 2018

Sister Lucy Nigh teaches English at the Douglas-Prieta Co-op.

Agua Prieta, Mexico, was the first destination for Sister Adaire Lassonde's MAP experience. The town is located in Mexico, just across the border from Douglas, Arizona. While there, Sisters Lucy Nigh and Judy Bourg introduced S. Adaire to the Migrant Center at the parish of  Sagra Familia, where they fixed breakfast and ate with four migrant guests who were staying at the center.

"During my time eating with them, I learned that Juan was stopping over in Agua Prieta to work and get enough money to take a bus to Mexicali," said Sister Adaire. "He had been deported after working for about 14 years in various cities on the U.S. eastern coast."

Later, the three sisters visited the Douglas-Prieta Co-op where Sister Adaire had the opportunity to join Sister Lucy's English class. The experience was especially heartwarming when witnessing how hard the women in the class worked to get the proper pronunciation and meaning of words.

Alas de Angel Clinic, serving individuals with disabilities, was the final stop of the day. There, Sister Adaire noted how generous volunteers were with their time and kind attention to the patients. "It was obvious that people who came to this free clinic felt respected and very grateful for the service given to them."

April 28, 2018

"Stay Out." The border wall seemed to scream these words as Sister Adaire traveled along the separation between the United States and Mexico. During her one and a half hour journey, she noted that much of the time, there was not just one wall, but two, or barriers and a barbed wire fence. Border patrol trucks were positioned about every six miles along the drive. 

Later in the day along a different road,  the sisters witnessed a young migrant begin stopped on the U.S. side who could not have been much older than 20 years old.

The border wall looms 20 feet overhead near Douglas, Arizona.

"These are among God's poorest of the poor, " said Sister Adaire as she reflected on her day. "What migrants would experience was too hard for me to imagine. The amount of ground to cover if they permeated the fence was huge!" 

A single, lost shoe on the U.S. side of the border serves as a stark reminder of the difficulties faced by those who travel this road.

April 26, 2018

Photo of Sister Adaire Lassonde

Sister Adaire Lassonde of St. Paul, Minnesota, will be experiencing a ten day immersion at the U.S. - Mexico border with the SSND Mission Awareness Program (MAP) in Douglas, Arizona, beginning April 26, 2018. Upon arrival in Arizona, Sister Adaire will begin her stay with an overview of the ministry there and background on the border area.