March 28, 2014 — A group of Catholic bishops will travel to Nogales, Ariz., March 30-April 1 to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system. As part of the trip, the bishops will visit the Jesuit-run Kino Border Initiative’s (KBI) outreach center for migrants and shelter for migrant women and children in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, according to KBI’s executive director Jesuit Father Sean Carroll.
“They’ll have the opportunity to get to know our work better and to dialogue with the migrants that we serve,” said Fr. Carroll. KBI, a bi-national humanitarian ministry of the Society of Jesus in Nogales, Ariz.., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, provides assistance and accompaniment to migrants.
Organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, the bishops’ visit includes a walk in the desert, which will help them to become “more aware of the lived reality of the migrants who are crossing the desert,” said Fr. Carroll.
The trip will culminate with an April 1 Mass celebrated by Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley and the bishops on behalf of the nearly 6,000 migrants who have died in the U.S. desert since 1998.
The border visit follows the example of Pope Francis, who traveled to the Italian island of Lampedusa last summer to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. “The U.S.-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.
“Pope Francis laid a wreath there in the water to remember them and also really challenged the world and the church to respond to the needs of our migrant brothers and sisters,” said Fr. Carroll. “We want to promote policies and reform so migrants don’t have to cross the desert and put their lives at risk looking for a better life.”
According to Fr. Carroll, reforming our visa system to help reunite family members in an expedited way is one example of immigration reform that could ease the suffering of migrants.
“The purpose of the bishops’ visit is very much in line with KBI’s mission: to be a humanizing presence on the U.S.-Mexico border and to foster bi-national solidarity on the issue of migration,” Fr. Carroll said.
For more information, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Catholic Bishops on U.S.-Mexico Border web page and read a recent op-ed by Father Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, on how U.S. deportation practices endanger human dignity.