So many things change in six months. And some stay relatively the same, as was the case for me returning to Nogales for the School of the Americas protest. Six months ago I made my first trip to the border with Loretto’s Latin America and Caribbean Committee–a trip that deepened my understanding of migration challenges as well as my own identity. This second trip was different, obviously, as we were there with a much larger group for a separate (though related) purpose. The weekend was full of people from all walks of life: veterans, farmworkers, family members who lost loved ones attempting to make the journey across the border. We walked to Nogales, Mexico, Saturday morning, and split up to attend different workshops the rest of the day. The workshop that struck me most involved the Migrant Trail.
The Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life started in 2004. Their mission statement is as follows: “The precarious reality of our borderlands calls us to walk. We are a spiritually diverse, multi-cultural group who walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died, others who have crossed, and people who continue to come. We bear witness to the tragedy of death and of the inhumanity in our midst. Lastly, we make this sacred journey as a community, in defiance of the borders that attempt to divide us, committed to working together for the human dignity of all peoples.”
The walk is not a simulation, the group’s founders stressed. Rather, it is a form of contemplative prayer, of solidarity. Because of course we can never truly walk in the migrants’ shoes. We, who have so much privilege, who will never know the fear and desperate need to leave the familiar behind.
I think about the group’s mission statement now, sitting in the office, just steps away from United Nations Headquarters. And I feel reinvigorated to do this advocacy work, because critical witness is one of the easiest ways to honor and lift up the thousands of people who may never have the platforms I have access to.