Mexicans Facing Border Issues with Resilience
By Daniela Martell Mendoza
Editor’s note: Daniela is a senior at Loretto Academy. Buffy Boesen, her principal, asked her to write about the problems facing students today living in Ciudad Juarez, México, and going to school in El Paso, Texas.
The COVID-19 restriction on the border has impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexicans who cross the border this difficult year. Many who are students from the sister city Ciudad Juarez attend Loretto Academy. Others attend other schools in El Paso.
In the pre-pandemic days, a Loretto student’s typical day starting in Juarez would be waking up long hours before the 8:15 a.m. bell rang, running out the door, eating breakfast in the car while mom or dad were screaming not to forget passports. They would get to the border patrol agent, hoping not to get a difficult one, putting a big smile on their faces and saying, “American Citizen.” After Covid-19, only the student could cross to the U.S.
Loretto Academy sends letters to the authorities at the border to allow students to cross. With the letters, some Mexican parents can now cross the border to drop their children off and pick them up from school. This gives them some sense of normalcy.
Not every police officer accepts the letters signed by the president of Loretto Academy, Sister Buffy Boesen. It is a gamble to cross the border even with the letter.
A mom or dad drops them off at the border and returns at 3:15, praying that their students not become victims of the long lines to get home. Thousands of Mexicans who can’t cross the border only dream about going to El Paso.
Expressing the fear of many parents, Irma Mendoza, one mother said, “How I wish I could go to El Paso. I hate when my children go without me, not because of selfish reasons, but because there is always this fear in the back of many of our minds. It makes us think of horrible situations that they could be facing in El Paso where we wouldn’t be able to help. With the border policies changing so much, it leaves us wondering if they are going to close the bridges for them not to be able to return to Juarez.”
This is not the only problem that Juarenzes have had to suffer. Loretto Academy went to remote learning from the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
During the Texas storms that left the state powerless for days, it left El Paso untouched, but that was not the case for Juarez. Our city had no power or water, and for some households, no gas. How long did it last? It depended on where you lived. For those who lived by hospitals, the power outage lasted one to three days. For others, longer. How did these students go to online school then?
Sometimes the power would be off during the day and turn on during the night, so many students stayed up all night catching up on assignments. Here are a few examples of how students handled the situation:
Veronica Espino, a sophomore, said, “The power outage lasted almost two days and we had no water. Thankfully I was able to take class whenever the power came back.”
Melani Saldaña, Loretto senior, said, “It was not an easy experience, but we made it through. There was no school on Monday because of President’s Day when electricity loss happened, and on Tuesday, I had electricity, so I did go to school. I found out I had to turn in a homework assignment. When I explained the situation to the teacher, she understood.”
Times are still changing, and we hope the border restrictions will be lifted. These situations put people to a test to demonstrate their resilience, and that they have.