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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

‘The desert speaks’: Faith communities gather at US-Mexico border

Standing in the shadow of the fence separating the United States and Mexico, Bishop Mark J. Seitz pulled out the photos of Jakelin Caal, seven, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, eight, two migrant children who died in US custody.

“We can’t allow more tragedies like these. They cannot be repeated,” the bishop of El Paso, Texas, said on 26th February at the Interfaith Service for Justice and Mercy at the Border, celebrated by faith communities on both sides of the border.

“Innocents have died because we have done everything to keep them from finding a dignified life,” Bishop Seitz said. “The desert speaks, because on this land has fallen the blood of many who are trying to pass to find a dignified life, and we can hear the shouts of land telling us that our policies have consequences.”

US President Donald Trump has declared an emergency over security at the southern border. He has sent troops to the region and doubled down on plans to expand the building of a border wall, beyond the barricades already stretching approximately 600 miles at various points along the frontier.

Church leaders and Catholic communities working on migration issues concur that there is an emergency – though not the same crisis the president describes – as migrants flee poverty and violence in Central America and encounter an increasingly cold response at the US border.

Picture: Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, holds photos of two migrant children who died in US custody; he spoke during the Interfaith Service for Justice and Mercy at the Border near Sunland Park, N.M on 26th February. (CNS photo/David Agren).