Shadows on the Border: Immigration impacts so many lives - Tucson News Now

Shadows on the Border: Immigration impacts so many lives

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
SOUTHERN, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The motto on the wall reads "all people have the same rights." That's the idea at this soup kitchen in Nogales, Sonora, less than a mile from the U.S. border.

It's a first stop for people who've been deported, a last stop for people about to cross and a rest stop for those with nowhere else to go.

Tucson News Now's Craig Thomas went to Nogales to get an up close and personal look. The soup kitchen, which served nearly 50,000 meals last year, is run by the Kino Border Initiative.

One man told his story though tears. He described a 13-day journey he took with his nephew, trekking and riding up to the border from Guatemala.

He was too emotional to go on camera - but explained he tried to cross to America through a port in Nogales. He didn't have papers and was turned away.

All he did have were the clothes on his back. He'd made the entire journey wearing cowboy boots.

Another migrant named Jose Luis spoke through a translator.

"I wanted to cross into the United States because I wanted to look for a better life," Luis said.

Luis said he's from told southern Mexico. He was returned to Nogales, Sonora, after 11 months at the federal detention center in Florence. ICE agents caught him near the border in Douglas.

"Well when immigration caught me, I was frustrated and angry," he said. "I've never been locked up in a place."

Luis said everyone he speaks to during meals has a different story -- but they're all similar.

"The majority of the people here want to cross for a better life, because back home they either don't have jobs, they can't survive or move forward." he said.

At the soup kitchen, migrants get a full meal, service with a smile and medical help if they need it. They do mental exercises to lift their spirits. And people listen to and document their stories.

So much of the focus on the immigration debate in our country is about the wall, violence and drugs. But the priest who runs the program said that misses the bigger story -- and that is the people who live in the shadows.

Father Sean Carroll is a Jesuit priest who is the executive director at the Kino Border Initiative and the driving force behind this program.

"Human dignity is at risk here," he said. "It's at risk for them when they are deported and that is why this work is so important."

Immigration is one of the most controversial topics in our country. But Carroll said many of the people who argue about it don't understand the lives impacted.

"We see and get to know the human person and we hear the stories, but they really teach us a lot," head said. "They teach us about the strength of the human spirit. They teach us about what it means to persevere to fulfill ones dream."

Another man said he lived in Phoenix for 20 years, until he was deported because he got caught selling drugs.

Most of the people at the soup kitchen were from Mexico or Central America, who'd crossed into the states because they felt they had no choice. They came from violent areas, and had no way of supporting their families.

"Those are powerful motives for people to cross the boarder and they have no legal way to cross," Carroll said. "They would do it legally if they could. But they can't under our current immigration system."

Carroll said in an ideal world, the soup kitchen wouldn't be needed. But in the real world, the need is there.

"This crisis of immigration, we don't think about it in terms of numbers or statistics," he said. "We think about it in terms of stories, families, and people."

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