27 HRS ON THE BORDER
On August 23, I traveled to the South Texas border with Sandra from Worth Manifesto, to deliver 3,000+ welcome/hygiene kits to organizations working with asylum-seeking families.
This summer, Worth Manifesto set a goal to collect 1,000 bags of toiletries for women at the border, by the end of July. At the end of the campaign, Worth Manifesto received over 3,000 kits in donations. This trip recap takes us through our trip, as Sandra learns about the border and hand-delivers these donations to organizations aiding asylum-seeking families in McAllen, Texas.
Here’s an hour by hour breakdown of our trip.
3 PM — Flew into McAllen, Texas, met up with Sandra from Worth Manifesto and started driving to learn more about the southern Texas border!
3:30 PM — Visited La Lomita Chapel, a historic and sanctuary chapel that will be lost as the border wall continues to be built. La Lomita Chapel is a historic Catholic chapel in Mission, Texas. It was once an important site for the Cavalry of Christ, a group of priests who traveled long distances on horseback to minister to Catholics living on isolated ranches along the Rio Grande.
In 2018, it became the subject of a dispute between the United States government and the Catholic Church. This is due to its location, in the path of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
4:00 PM — Visited Anzalduas Park in Mission, Texas and noticed that there was more than normal law enforcement activity on the US side, but people swinging and enjoying the river on the Mexican side. 🇲🇽Anzalduas Park is near an international bridge over the Rio Grande, which connects the western outskirts of both the city of McAllen, Texas in the United States and the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, in Mexico.
This international bridge provides cross-border commuters with two southbound and northbound lanes, as well as a pedestrian crossing. The bridge near this park opened on December 15, 2009.
5:00 PM — While in Hidalgo, Texas, we visited the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center. This park is best known for its historic museum and birding center, featuring a five-mile hike and bike trail, as well as a historic steam-powered irrigation pump house.
We could still view the antique boilers and infrastructure, used to irrigate the farmland around the city of Hidalgo, Texas, during the early 20th century. While walking through this public park, along the US side of the border, a National Guard helicopter did a flyover and circled us to make sure we weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Many local people also use this park to take wedding, senior, and family photos.
6:00 PM — As our drive continued along the South Texas border, we drove by and saw a new “holding center” being built alongside the Donna, Texas border entry point. It was large when I first witnessed its construction in June, but it was expanded in less than two months.
This specific center is designed to hold immigrants for only a few days. When the center opened, it was a 40,000-square-foot white vinyl tent complex. Its technical name is “holding facility”, not a detention center.
When it opened, it was designed to house up to 500 people at a time, but within seven weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection doubled its capacity. The center processes unaccompanied migrant children, along with family units.
7:30 PM — After an afternoon of learning about the border, we picked up my parents and went to get Tacos at Armando’s. We even had choco flan. If you know, you know!
9:00 PM - I went back to school shopping at the local Walmart with my mom and my sister, since she’s about to start another year at the local university. All I could think about was about the shooting tragedy that happened in El Paso and the fact that my hometown is the same cultural demographic.
While shopping with my family, I realized that what happened in El Paso, could have happened in our hometown, or in any other border community alike because of how cultural and demographically similar these border towns are.
My heart is broken for the state of our border communities. Many Latino families are living in fear, in an already so complex part of the country. No one in the US should live in fear of their lives, while they go shopping. This is another issue and fear is being added to the weight of an already complex conversation.
11:00 PM — I called my wife, asked about how she and my son were doing, filled her in on my day and went to bed. ♥️
August 24, 2019
8:00 AM — Spoke on the phone with a social worker from Tennessee about the hardships that border ministries and communities are currently facing.
9:00 AM — Visited the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Center and got caught up on how policy changes are impacting asylum-seeking families. ✝️Catholic Charities has been one of the main organizations we’ve partnered with to respond to immigrant families in crisis. The Humanitarian Respite Center center provides a place for countless men, women, children, and infant refugees to rest, have a warm meal, shower, and change into clean clothing. Asylum-seeking families also receive medicine and other supplies, before continuing onto their journey.
10:00 AM — While walking through the humanitarian center, we met a 21-year-old mother from Honduras, who had to spend the last 2 months traveling from Honduras to the USA. 🇭🇳 After reaching Mexico, a month into her journey, she gave birth to her son on the Mexican side of the border. Her 1-month-old son was laying on a worn-out mat on the floor, as we walked in. As a new dad, it broke my heart to realize that this mother delivered her baby in a foreign country, without any support, or her loved ones around her. Her little baby was so cute!
This made me miss my son, Jude! This is one of the countless stories of immigrant families leaving everything behind and journeying towards an unknown future.
1:00 PM — Delivery truck from Pilot Delivery services arrives with 3,000+ donations from Worth Manifesto for three different border organizations helping asylum-seeking families.
The three receiving organizations are Border Perspective, Angry Tias and Catholic Charities Respite Center.
2:00 PM — Sandra, my parents, my sister, and I started sorting, packing, and loading donations for various organizations.
5:00 PM — I got dropped off at the airport and flew back to Minneapolis to be with my family.
It was a whirlwind trip, but a necessary one that needed to happen, in order to get these donations to organizations that are working directly with some of the most vulnerable immigrant families currently on the border.
Border Perspective has an upcoming border trip in October 2019. Our border journey trips are immersive, educational, and intentionally place you into the lives of immigrant leaders serving families on the South Texas & Mexico border. During our journey, you will learn more about the issues immigrants leaders face day to day and how local ministries are overcoming the challenges of ministering in this tumultuous region of our country.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yonathan Moya is the Executive Director of Border Perspective. He has spent the last decade of his life serving on the mission field throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Yonathan grew up on the U.S. & Mexico border. He's a South Texas native now living with his wife, Megan, their new born son Jude, and mini golden-doodle, Fitz, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.