"Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime"

This is a sign that was often seen in the Tucson sector in Arizona where Associate Connie Knowles and Sr. Yvette Rainville joined a group of lay persons and religious from various parts of the country for an Immigration Immersion Experience sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM).

Our short time in Tucson was intense, but so moving and shocking. The day we walked the migrant trails in the Sonora Desert made us aware of how rugged and difficult it is for migrants who flee their desperate living and/or political situations in Mexico and Central America, many of whom come to join family members living in the US. Walking the trails for days, some migrants experience dehydration and injuries making it impossible to keep up with their group. Some die if not found by humanitarian aid.

Tucson Samaritans is a volunteer organization whose main goal is to be a “voice of compassion and a healing presence in the Arizona desert.” Every morning Samaritans travel to the desert searching for migrants in need of aid. They replenish supplies, especially water and food in specific locations to help prevent dehydration, starvation, even death.

Another day, at the Tucson Courthouse, we witnessed Operation Streamline, subtitled, Assembly Line Injustice for Corporate Profit.  Each day migrants who have been apprehended by border patrol agents are “processed” before a judge (up to seventy each day), given sentences of one to six months’ incarceration to be served in private, for-profit prisons, then, deported to their country. In the courtroom, all detained people are shackled at the wrists and ankles.  The more we saw the more we were appalled at the inhumane, abusive and unjust treatment of these undocumented people.

The US government pours billions of dollars into these programs in the name of “enforcing laws,” in large part for corporate profit: court cost, government-contracted attorneys, and government-contracted private prisons.

President Obama and some members of Congress have promised comprehensive immigration reform which may become a reality in the near future.  Also, there are many grassroots organizations (mainly church related) that are committed to changing  the present system on behalf of people seeking asylum, legal residency and a way to reunite with their families in the US.

The experience left us compelled to share what we had lived and witnessed and to explore how we can take action.  As Daughters of the Holy Spirit and DHS Associates, we have taken a corporate stance on immigration reform…so, are we committed to being voices for change on immigration policies??  It is an urgent need! We can be informed, contact our legislators and the White House, and join with the voices of others. Let there be no more deaths for those seeking the freedom that everyone deserves!  (www.whitehouse.gov;  to find one’s state legislators: www.house.gov; www.sen.gov)

Sr. Yvette Rainville, DHS and Connie Knowles, DHS Asso.
yvetter1@myfairpoint.net for more information about this DHS project and the Immigration Immersion Experience.

Sister Yvette with border patrol personnel.
Map of human remains.
Connie and Sr. Yvette with Bishop Kicanas of Tucson.
Abandoned clothing along the trail.
The wall.



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