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100 Women 100 Miles: Border pilgrimage from El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

These two pilgrimages have been of hope, faith, and love, as well as of consciousness, resistance, and political advocacy. After these experiences of pilgrimage during which I have had in mind my own pilgrimage and that of my brothers and sisters who have migrated and are migrating now, it has been a great honor and privilege to be part of the 100 women 100 miles team. It has been very fruitful and important for me to renew my spiritual calling to continue to move forth our stories and ask that the holy Pope continue to elevate our voices when he meets with politicians so that they may have compassion, be welcoming to immigrants, and treat us with the dignity we deserve. We were able to join many groups of women in El Paso, Texas, where we shared the work that we do in our communities, specifically with Latino families.We were able to walk with members of AFL-CIO, meet people from various faiths, and be present during the mass that the Pope offered to all of the immigrants on either side of the border. This space allowed us to be with the children and youth who have recently arrived to the U.S. and are in proceedings to be able to stay in this country.

As I began the pilgrimage along the border from El Paso to Juarez, I felt very moved when one woman arrived and told me, “I want to welcome you. I am a mother who is in the struggle because one of my daughters in missing.” This resonated in my soul. I asked myself, “why, God? Why do much suffering?” As a mother, I felt great pain for her. I asked myself, “how can she continue living?” What I know gives her strength is being in the struggle with other mothers who have had similar experiences and who have lived under fear imposed by a corrupt government. This woman was an example for me to follow by continuing to resistant and never remain silent.

In this moment during which the wound to my heart remains open, I continue to feel impotent. Entering the court and seeing the way in which our immigrant brothers and sisters are treated was very saddening. Entering and seeing the sadness and suffering that marks the faces of those young people who are being held, when the only sin they have committed is to come to this country searching for work so that they and their families may survive, being treated so coldly without the least bit of compassion. I spent most of the time crying and I still cry when the images of those faces so marked with disillusion, abuse, marginalization come to mind, and when I think of the way that the coldhearted police would stand before them without any sympathy and mock them. After about an hour of standing detained, many with injuries from their journey, the judge came forth.

My participation in this second pilgrimage was very important to me as a continuation of the pilgrimage in September. Our voices must be heard loudly and with certainty as we demand that we are given liberty. They have forgotten the meaning of justice and we are here to remind them and to demand that they practice equality. We will not stop asking the Pope that he not be tired of continuing to speak for kindness and love.

In September at the White House we had visibility and were able to have a meeting during which we told our stories. They did not take away our motivation when they proceeded to begin to implement more raids and intimidation across the country and that is why it was important to us to take our message and our stories to the Pope again.

My hope is to have a meeting with the Pope, face-to-face, so that he can see that we are really here. That we are bone and flesh. That his voice and his calls to action must be heard by politicians. That we deserve to be free; we have families to support. The politicians of our countries force us to migrate because of the lack of security that exists and the risks that we must live under. We are not the causes of the political, economic, and social problems that they are experiencing, but rather, we have proven ourselves to be the solution.

I ask that We Belong Together continue offering these activities in which women who are mothers, workers, and immigrants can continue to show the world our realities and asking for changes to legislation that continues to marginalize immigrant workers.

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Andrea Lee

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