Hampshire Life Editor’s Note: Visiting the border

Published: 1/10/2020 9:46:16 AM
Modified: 1/10/2020 9:45:37 AM

Dear readers,

In some ways, the U.S.-Mexico border has felt close to home lately — with constant reminders in the news about the humanitarian crisis going on there, and our administration’s continued belligerence about building a wall there. At the same time, it’s more than 2,000 miles away from Hampshire County and possesses a different climate, a different culture and a whole different reality than we experience here.

Phil Wilson, accompanying his wife Shelly Berkowitz, traveled to El Paso, Texas, both to visit friends and to deliver a check to Annunciation House, which is on the front lines of working with and housing immigrants and refugees at the border. The organization is a Catholic-run program that shelters poor and homeless people at the border, and has been in operation since 1978. In Wilson’s essay, published this week in Hampshire Life, Wilson looks at this part of the country — the sprawl of corporations, the vast openness and the treatment of those seeking asylum from violence in other countries.

On a tour of Annunciation House, Wilson learns about some of the people Annunciation House serves. “These are not angry people, but instead thankful that they have survived, thankful toward God,” a volunteer named Cindy tells him. She also tells of a man who walked for two weeks in the desert with a 2-year-old child. Upon arriving at Annunciation House, he got down on his knees and thanked God for sparing his child, Cindy said.

Political realities have put Annunciation House and its volunteers into the middle of the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by right-wing policies — those same policies that have led to family separations and some deaths of children. Wilson’s essay brings his experience visiting El Paso back to us here, where the crisis is far away, but not far from the minds of many living here.

— Dave Eisenstadter

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