Opinion: Reflections on border immersion

By Joseph Rojo | September 28, 2016 9:37pm

We sat in the courthouse for an hour and watched groups of 10 people walk in with chains on their wrists and ankles. All ten people looked at the judge, they were sentenced and sent off in their chains to a private detention center. Then the next 10 came up to face the judge. This pattern kept going on for the entire hour we were there.

We watched over 80 people get sentenced to detention centers.

Two years ago during Spring Break, I went on the Border Immersion in Arizona and my time in the courthouse was one of the most vivid moments I have experienced. There were plenty of real and raw moments that really brought the issues of migration to life.

We walked in the desert that many undocumented migrants cross. We saw the makeshift graves for unknown migrants, both adults and children, who passed away in the crossing.

We received an extensive lesson on immigration law and the historical context behind migration from Latin America to the USA. We heard the stories of families being torn apart by migration and deportation.

I wish I could fully convey how moving the experience of that Border Immersion was and the effect it had on me. Overall, Border Immersion humanized a concept that we talk about daily. It turned the topic of undocumented migration into a very human and raw reality that we came face-to-face with.

Almost every day we hear on the news and in the political talks about migration and the laws regarding undocumented migrants. We hear even more about these issues recently given the presidential election and the contrast in opinion of what should be done regarding migration and the border. But to move from talking about theory to seeing the impacts that these conversations have on real people is a powerful experience.

Given the current political climate and the possible consequences and changes caused by the election, it is now more important than ever to learn about migration and get multiple perspectives on it in order to form our own perspectives.

I encourage you all to consider applying for Border Immersion, as well as other Immersions offered by the Moreau Center. The deadline to apply is Oct. 9 and you can apply at up.edu/moreaucenter.

Joseph Rojo is a senior biology and spanish major and can be reached at rojo17@up.edu.