In 2019 Maryknoll Lay Missioners returned to the US-Mexico border in response to the continuing immigration crisis. The border at El Paso/Ciudad Juárez is a crossroad where cultures from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America meet and enrich one another. While there is undeniable vitality in this exchange, the border is also a place of immense suffering as migrants who have been forced to flee their homes try to overcome countless obstacles in their effort to begin a new life. Currently our missioners at the border work with immigrants by providing shelter, meals and legal advocacy. They also work with Encuentro Project, an immersion program that provides education on the immigration process and issues of migration. We expect to expand into other ministries as our presence grows.
Justice and Peace
New immigrants must overcome legal obstacles and challenges before they can begin to build new lives in the U.S. One of our missioners is an immigration attorney at a non-profit center, assisting immigrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. and providing other forms of legal relief. Other missioners work with migrant shelters that receive asylum seekers who have just arrived in the U.S. and been released by border patrol, as well as longer term shelters in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. One missioner also works with a food program for migrants and members of the local community through Sacred Heart Parish.
All the missioners at the border assist with the Encuentro Project, an immersion program that provides education and first-hand knowledge about the U.S. immigration process and issues around migration. The missioners are presenters and provide accompaniment for the groups that arrive in El Paso. Many of the groups also visit Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.