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Loretto at the border

Posted on February 28, 2020, by Mary Jean Friel CoL

Loretto’s Latin America/Caribbean Committee (LACC) has been on the front lines of the immigration crisis for many years at the Arizona border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico. LACC’s Border Experience provides interested groups the opportunity to witness the plight and the experience of U.S.-detained immigrants who have fled violence in Central America. Border Experience participants witness detainees’ housing situations, the legal process (immigration court) and interact with Mexican and American social service agencies providing aid to those seeking asylum in the United States.

Loretto helps fund and support shelters, provides food and necessities and supports migrants in detention centers. All money goes directly to provide food and support to asylum-seekers, not to overhead or other costs.

Delivering food purchased by Loretto and St. Mary’s Academy teachers, with the Rev. Badnew (at right); Jean East CoL is in gray next to Melissa Feito, Loretto Volunteer, in St. Mary’s shirt

In 2019, we saw the situation at the border in Nogales, Arizona, change for the worse, a result of federal government policies which spawned child separation and other harsh measures. We were on the ground for three Border Experience trips this year, and each time, the suffering of those seeking refuge had increased.

Those pictured here are from families fleeing their homes in the night because of extreme violence in their towns. The plight of parents bringing their children on an arduous journey with no sure solution in sight is heartbreaking.

LACC is committed to working toward educating people and changing our government policies.

A child replicates the home she and her family fled.

Photos are of families at Arizona shelters. Photos courtesy of Mary Jean Friel CoL and used by permission; childrens’ names withheld for their protection.


Mary Jean Friel CoL

Mary Jean Friel has spent her life working for the rights of migrant worker communities in the United States. She served 20 years as a community organizer on behalf of U.S. farm workers, working with legendary civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. She currently works at the Nogales-Sonora border in Arizona with immigrants, many fleeing violence in Central America. A Loretto Community Co-Member for 45 years, Mary Jean currently works with the Latin American Committee to provide U.S.-Mexico Border Immersion trips to educate groups about the plight of immigrants seeking a home in the U.S. She is the mother of three—Nathan, Michael and Carolyn—and lives in California.
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