Today was an early start at 5:30, waking up at the crack of dawn. Excited to dress in our fancy attire to attend the immigration court. Following breakfast, our group played an energizing game to begin the day. We then loaded the vans and packed up to head to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We first visited Peace Lutheran Church to meet with the Border Servant Corps Director, Kari. She explained the purpose of the church, to house refugees and provide shelter and resources. Kari also provided us with background information that would later help us in the court proceedings. She was enlightening and prepared us properly for Court.
Arriving at the District Courthouse of Las Cruces, we quietly entered the Tortugas Court Room. We were able to listen to the remaining minutes of a finishing case. The two proceedings we heard regarded, not entering at a point of entry, and entering again without permission after already being deported. These migrants being sentenced were held in shackles around the waist, wrist, and ankles, and appeared to be mainly men. This Judge went about cases with sincere compassion and in a timely manner. After the few minutes we observed, we had the opportunity to speak with Judge Garza. She informed us with more description of the Court process, and answered our questions. Proceeding our discussion, we were permitted to enter a second Court Room to hear more hearings, with different immigrants. This room contained many more immigrants, varying in ages from 18-50 years old. This experience enhanced our understanding of the process in which immigrants face.
On our journey home, we stopped at an authentic Mexican restaurant. It is interesting to see how the Mexican culture influences border towns. Here we enjoyed a unique cuisine while enjoying each other’s company. We then explored the nearby plaza and completed the meal with some local ice cream. Following we finished our journey home to Cristo Rey.
Arriving at Cristo Rey, we welcomed the children who partake in the after school program. While some played with the children, and helped them with their homework, others sorted incoming donations to the church. We then had dinner with an undocumented immigrant who then became a border networker for human rights. She told us her story and how her life has shaped her to become who she is today. The Border Network for Human Rights promotes human immigration reform and puts on an event called Hugs not Walls, located in El Paso.
We ended the night with creating our individual leadership stories that we will present to the group in coming days.
Ashley, Faith, and Ari