From the Border: S. Janet Gildea
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018

Sisters of Charity Associates Patrice Harty and Evangeline Andarsio arrived [last week] to visit and volunteer. The number of refugees released continues to be very high: Sunday- 240, Monday 325, Tuesday 345, Wednesday 390, Thursday 303, Friday 205. We are waiting to hear if any will be released today.

We volunteered at Centro San Juan Diego, the temporary shelter opened two weeks ago that is ordinarily a former Catholic parochial school turned into a religious education center for the diocese. The first guests we received on our shift included four Cuban women, three of whom were pregnant. We had a good laugh at how perfect our team was for that shift since our Associate Evangeline Andarsio is of Cuban heritage and a retired OB-Gyn! Since one of the women seemed to be having some contractions (prematurely) we were glad for her expert assistance. Fortunately everything calmed down and the next day mother and baby-in-the-womb headed off to her family in Brooklyn by bus. Unfortunately her husband was still detained in one of the ICE detention facilities here and unlikely to receive asylum.

Patrice Harty has been at the shelter from noon-6 p.m. every day, using her fluent Spanish, pastoral and maternal skills with the mothers and children who are so grateful for a welcoming presence. She has prepared the personal hygiene bags and helped direct the newcomers to the various areas of the shelter for clothing, food and showers. No matter how tired and bedraggled the mother or father and children appear, they are always quick to thank God for being released from detention and able to travel to be with their sponsor (family member or friend) while they wait for their asylum case to be decided.

Meanwhile, the situation for refugees waiting on the bridges at the ports of entry continues to be precarious. The executive order yesterday requiring them to request asylum only at ports of entry is being challenged in court.  When the ports are restricting the number of interviews daily and turning people away to the streets of Juarez there will be tremendous hardship but the churches on both sides of the border are stepping up to provide food and blankets. This week there was a meeting between U.S. Border Patrol and the Mexican immigration police to discuss how to forcefully remove refugees who are camped out on the bridges awaiting their turn to present at the ports of entry to request asylum.

There have been rumors circulated to increase fear of the refugees and turn public opinion against them. Ruben Garcia sent a message yesterday refuting one such rumor that more than 40 cases of tuberculosis have been confirmed among the refugees. No cases have been suspected, much less confirmed.

Thank you again for your prayers, the donations that both S. Jean Miller and Patrice brought and that we have received via mail, and for your efforts to advocate on behalf of these brothers and sisters in need.