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Fordham in Nogales 2019

$13,447 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 169 people in 3 months
Created March 8, 2019
Fordham in Nogales 2019
on behalf of Sean Carroll
A group of Fordham faculty will participate in a faculty immersion program at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona/Nogales, Sonora, during this year’s spring break, March 17-22, 2019.  The program is described below.

This is not a fundraiser for ourselves or our expenses, which are being paid by the Office of the Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning. Rather, on our arrival we plan to make a purchase of toiletries, clothing, and other necessities for those we will be accompanying at the border. We will purchase whatever the organizers of the Kino Border Initiative  tell us is most needed at that moment, and as much as your donations allow us to purchase.

The group includes: Dana Alonzo (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Service); Glenn Hendler (Professor of English and American Studies, Acting Chair of English); Carey Kasten (Associate Professor of Spanish); Mick McCarthy (Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning, Associate Professor Theology); James McCartin (Associate Professor of Theology, Acting Associate Provost); Marciana Popescu (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Service); Jacqueline Reich (Professor and Chair, Communication and Media Studies); Diane Rodriguez (Professor of Curriculum and Teaching, Graduate School of Education); Falguni Sen (Professor of Strategy and Statistics, Gabelli School of Business); and Ian Weinstein (Professor, Fordham Law)

This faculty immersion program is designed to deepen faculty engagement with Fordham’s mission and to foster understanding of and solidarity with marginalized people. Participants will gain an enhanced critical perspective on the complex challenges related to migration at the U.S-Mexico border and the global crisis of migrants and refugees today. The program is part of a two-year pilot faculty development initiative, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning, which also includes an array of topical seminars and retreats for faculty.

The trip will be coordinated and led by Mick McCarthy, S.J., Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning; Jim McCartin (Theology); and Jackie Reich (Communication and Media Studies).  Both Jackie and Jim have participated in a similar immersion program through the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Our host will be the Kino Border Initiative (KBI ), a binational organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus, which provides humanitarian assistance to migrants and offers educational programming for scholars and others interested in learning about local, regional, and national immigration policies. This program will be based out of a hotel on the Arizona side of the border. Each morning, we will serve migrants and deportees at a cafeteria on the Sonora side of the border, during which there will be opportunities to hear their first-hand stories. Throughout the week, there will also be opportunities to learn about immigration from multiple perspectives, including from officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Immigration Court, as well as from social service providers and legal advocates for migrants. Participants will spend one afternoon hiking through an area of the desert frequently traveled by migrants. In the evenings, there will be time reserved for group reflection and discussion about the day’s activities.
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This is the sixth and final update from the GoFundMe site started by the "Fordham in Nogales" initiative.

We are happy and grateful to inform all donors that Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., who is Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), has informed us that the nearly $13,000 you contributed will be enough to purchase seventy bunk beds for both their men's shelter and their women and children's shelter. We visited a KBI shelter, and thus can testify to the importance of the support the organization provides there for migrants, asylum-seekers, and deportees. We are very pleased with this result, and thankful for your support for this important cause. 168 people contributed to this fundraiser, and knowing that all of you were in solidarity was truly uplifting while we were on our immersion experience in Nogales.

Fr. Carroll will be withdrawing the money to purchase the bunk beds shortly, and then we will be shutting down the GoFundMe page. However, if you haven't already followed our blog at http://fordhaminnogales2019.blog, please do. Go to the site and look for a "follow" button at the bottom right of your browser window. Click on that, enter an e-mail address, and you'll be notified each time we write a new post. You can read our accounts of our experiences in Nogales, see updates about border-related issues, and learn about relevant further developments at Fordham and beyond.

Also on the blog site is a link to KBI. It is very worth following them on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep track of the always-rapidly-changing situation on the border. You--and others you inform about this initiative--can also donate directly to KBI on their site.

Once again, thank you so much for your support for us and for KBI's essential efforts.

Sincerely,
The Fordham in Nogales group
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After this, there will be just one more update coming from the GoFundMe site, when we transfer the funds to Kino Border Initiative.

However, we'd like to urge you to follow our blog at https://fordhaminnogales2019.blog/ . If you go there and look to the bottom right of your browser, you will see a "follow" link that will allow you to sign up for an e-mail notification each time we post. On the blog, you'll find the same updates that were on the GoFundMe page (but with more photos!). Plus many of the participants in the immersion program have committed to posting short (or longer) essays about the experience, with photos. We'll also occasionally post other relevant materials there. Please follow us!

And once again, we want to express our deepest appreciation for your support.
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Days 4, 5 and Reflections

Day 4 was spent divided between two worlds: the morning with Border Patrol and the afternoon in the comedor. At Border Patrol we witnessed a presentation by two border patrol agents who were part of the public service division, which includes PR and community outreach. The agents were well informed and engaging, albeit sticking to their script for most of our exchange. But it did humanize their work, and we talked about the difficulty of their jobs and why they chose this particular profession. One thing we learned was that when they are on patrol, they patrol alone over the difficult terrain we had walked the previous day: sometimes back-up is up to an hour away, even if the distance is less than a mile. The national guard are there helping monitor their state-of-the-art equipment in the control room looking for people crossing the desert. Sometimes their work is not only apprehension but also emergency medical services to those affected by the harsh conditions.

The afternoon was our last day in the comedor, where we did two servings. At this point some of the people remembered us, and the children came up and gave us hugs and kisses. There were new arrivals (some whom we had seen in court the day before) with their own horrible stories – one older man who had been deported after living in the US for 23 years, others injured during their crossing. I was particularly struck by two young men who were overjoyed to be at the comedor: they had just been released from prison (one serving seven months, the other two and a half years) – this was their first moment of freedom. For some of us who had formed bonds with those we had served, it was a bittersweet parting: we shared the uncertainty of their future as we returned to our present. We are not allowed to exchange personal information with them (requests were made for Facebook friends), and to tell them no was very difficult.

Each evening, after a delicious meal (usually Mexican) and some good discussion, we reflected on the day’s events. This last evening we switched the order and reflected before dinner. The tears flowed as we each felt the pain of the migrants’ stories that merged with our own pain, as we acknowledged our positions of privilege to be able to return to our stable and certain lives while our hearts literally ached for those who continue to suffer. To bear witness to a group of people who want nothing more than to escape violence and poverty in their search for medical care for their sick, education for their children, and a better life changed us all, and the next day, as we met with Joanna Williams to discuss next steps, we made concrete suggestions as to how we would advocate for just and humane immigration policies as well as serve those in our community affected by unjust and inhumane treatment. Joanna actually comes to Fordham this week, and we’ll be meeting with her as a group again to follow up with her.

We appreciate those of you who followed us on our journey and contributed to our cause. We want to thank the staff at the Kino Border Initiative for being such wonderful hosts and guides, the Office of Mission Integration and Planning for funding our journey, and all the people who spoke with us during our trip. Stay tuned for more updates in the months ahead and please remember and share some of the stories you have heard about on this blog.
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Dispatches from the Border, Day 2 and 3

It has been a packed two days in Nogales on both sides of the border. On Tuesday morning we went to a women’s shelter run by the Kino Border Initiative, which houses women and their children who need special attention or special protection as they await the asylum process. We brought them pizza, had a piñata party, and played with the kids. Then we served the afternoon meal in the comedor and toured what will be KBI’s new facility across the street. Wednesday we were out in the field: a desert walk in the morning, metaphorically “accompanying” the migrants as they cross the desert, and then the afternoon in United States Federal Court in Tucson watching migrants pleading guilty to illegally crossing the border in a process known as Operation Streamline.

Rather than go into a blow-by-blow account of our days (see the photos at the bottom of this post for visual representations of those moments), we thought it might be good to spend some time discussing the issues and giving examples.

Why do so many people coming from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala cross the border illegally? Because, as the judge explained to us after court yesterday, they have no legal recourse to request a work permit or a visa, even though the work they would perform — agriculture, dairy, construction, landscaping — is essential to the American economy. The costs are just too prohibitive for the visa application process, and they would have already spent most of their savings in their travel to flee their country and arrive at the border safely (unfortunately, many do not). Even if they have the money, the odds are still stacked against them — they must have a sponsor in the United States who is willing to vouch for them.

If they are apprehended crossing the border, they are charged with a misdemeanor and then sent back to their home country. If they are Mexican, it is almost immediate. If they are from another country, they wait in detention until the government can fill a charter plane with enough migrants to return them. A large number of them will try again, and if they are apprehended a second time, they are charged with a felony; they inevitably plead down to a misdemeanor and receive a sentence from thirty to 180 days in prison. Then they are deported.

During the sentencing, they can ask for a credible fear hearing to request asylum, meaning if they are returned to their country they would face a credible fear of violence and death. That credible fear hearing happens after they have served their sentence, not during the process. The success rates for asylum seekers already in detention are horrific: 4%. Why? Because they do not have access to lawyers, volunteers and others who can guide them through the bureaucratic maze.

In the comedor, most of the people we met are seeking asylum: they have a better chance of success because they are outside the detention system — about 25%. Right now Nogales is one of the calmer border crossings in terms of number of migrants and waiting for asylum, which can take up from 1-2 months. Who determines the order? A local NGO gives out numbers when migrants reach the border, and KBI and other organizations work with the migrants to let them know when their numbers are called. The cooperation between these organizations is essential and voluntary.

[Note: these updates are written by one of our fearless leaders, Jacqueline Reich]

GoFundMe only allows three photos with each update. We'll put together a site with way more photos when we have time. The three here are:

1) The Fordham group, with one of the lovely and charismatic kids, on the patio of the women's shelter.

2) Carey Kasten holding a baby at the comedor

3) Some of the items found in the desert, left by migrants.
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$13,447 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 169 people in 3 months
Created March 8, 2019
Fordham in Nogales 2019
on behalf of Sean Carroll
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