By Michelle Leon ‘22
According to Pew Research Center, The U.S. Border Patrol reported nearly 200,000 encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border last July, the highest monthly total in more than two decades.
Sister Suzanne Jabro, CSJ, ’69, has always been passionate about social justice issues. Her work in prison ministry, teaching schools in underserved communities and past experiences have fueled her ongoing passion for helping out the dear neighbor.
Border Compassion, located in Mexicali, Mexico, is a new nonprofit that Jasbro established in December 2021. She was inspired to create this organization after witnessing the injustices that migrant families face when intending to cross the border to the United States. Its mission is to “invite faith-communities to Cross-Over at the border to offer a compassionate humanitarian response to families living at the Posada del Migrante Shelter, which houses up to 300 people.”
Now that the nonprofit is up and running, Jasbro is asking the Mount and other faith-based communities to lend a helping hand in helping the dear neighbor.
“Most of the immigrants are coming in from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and they are very food insecure and they also have great needs in everything from hygiene supplies to clothing to basic medicine,” said Jasbro.
The organization strives to improve infrastructure at the already over-populated facility, securing a washing machine, stove, emergency exit doors and fire alarms. Still, there is much work to be done. The kitchen is outdoors, with limited refrigeration, and no hot water or air conditioning, despite temperatures that soar to more than 115 degrees.
According to Time magazine, roughly 1.6 million people are caught up in an ever-expanding backlog in United States immigration courts, according to new data tracking cases through December 2021. Those with open immigration cases must now wait an average of 58 months — nearly five years for a decision determining their legal status.
“Is this system so broken that they are leaving all these people?” asks Jabro. “Many are fleeing their countries for the sake of their children, as their home country is very unsafe.”
As more and more immigrants come to the shelter each day, Jabro is in desperate need of helping hands. She is currently recruiting volunteers to come to the shelter so that they can spend time with the families, teach workshops and witness firsthand what is happening at the shelter.
“I want to extend an invitation to the students and faculty at Mount Saint Mary’s University,” she said. “I would love for the students and faculty to come down and visit the shelter. Come for the day, and see for yourself. You'll be able to see what the needs are. How might we, together, attend to the needs of the dear neighbor?”