Peace & Justice
¡Gracias a la Vida!
Sisters Minister with Immigrants at Border
by Jeri Cashman, OP
In 2014, I read that, according to the most recent estimate from the Department of Homeland Security, there were 12.1 million immigrants living in our country “illegally.” I could not say “No” to Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House and the Nazareth Shelter, even though I was on sabbatical in 2014. I felt “called forth by God’s expansive love and mercy for all creation” to go to El Paso, TX. This artwork (left) of Dominic by Stephanie [Stauder, OP, 1918–2010] sustained me then and sustains me now as I see all of us on the way with our spirituality books and sandals.
At that time in 2014, I was offered gracious hospitality from the St. Joseph Sisters of Concordia (Kansas), and several of our own Sisters came to join me in the most cherished of times as we learned from, worked with, and welcomed our sisters and brothers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Every experience I had in Bolivia and in Mexico seemed to prepare me for this. And now . . . I want to thank the Sisters and Associates who have continued to answer the call “to respond to the needs of immigrants and refugees and to seek ways to relieve suffering.”
No one has to go to the Border. If some of us are there, we are all there. I want to thank our Congregation for every prayer offered, every phone call or text to our Congress members, every local protest attended together; keeping current with our Dominican Justice updates and other publications, reading our On the Border daily missives, and sharing the truth of our Statue of Liberty proclaiming: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
As I read the signs of the times in 2018, I once again could not say “No” to the call of our Sisters to accompany the newly detained immigrants arriving in El Paso. Ruben Garcia answered with: “We’re looking forward to having all of you with us.” This year, the Loretto Sisters of El Paso reached out to us with hospitality, rooms, a kitchen, and a car. We have everything we need because our guests give us the permission to welcome them, to share meals with them, to hug them as they leave us by bus or by plane. Hopefully, they will realize more of the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed” to us in the name of the figure of a robed woman representing freedom. A broken chain lies at her feet as she walks forward. The statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States and was always a welcoming sight to immigrants. May it be so with us. We need to keep advocating for immigration reform to allow our sisters and brothers to have a path to life in the United States.