El Paso Bridge Trip


Samuel Felice

During March, a group of Salesians flew down to El Paso, Texas, to tackle a critical topic. Border control has been a contentious topic in our nation for about a century, especially in more recent years. El Paso lies just across the border from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, which has a population roughly three times the size of El Paso at approximately 1.58 million people. While in El Paso, the group stayed at Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey, a Christian outreach center whose goal is to educate on social justice topics, especially regarding border issues. There they helped out at the Lutheran parish, which is also a refugee shelter which was run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The group sought to learn more about the immigration issues by hearing from a vast range of different people involved with the border issues. This included two immigration lawyers, who help immigrants in regards to legal rights and legality of their residence, two border patrol officers, who are stationed along the border on the Rio Grande. They also heard from two immigrants who had gotten their citizenship in the United States, and also immigrants that were still seeking citizenship. In addition to hearing the stories of those involved with these issues the group also helped cook dinner at the Casa Vides, a refugee shelter run by the Annunciation House. There they learned how to make arepas which are a Venezuelan cornmeal cake that is crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. This particular recipe is used for the bread of many types of Hispanic sandwiches.

One of the main reasons people should try this bridge trip in particular is because it gives a very holistic view from a multitude of different angles. It helped break media stereotypes, and showed a different side of things. Especially seeing the immigrants who were always light hearted and had a good sense of humor despite their difficult situation.