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Meeting the Face of Immigration

Posted on 03. Apr, 2014 by .


by Elizabeth Stenger, Franciscans For Justice Staff

It was our first day in Tijuana. We had crossed the border into Mexico only a few hours earlier and now were at Casa del Migrante. I was at dinner, sitting across from a man I didn’t know. Like many, I was timid and unsure of what to say. After the initial hellos, Alejandro and I got to talking about a lot of things. I found out that like me, Alejandro had crossed the border into Mexico earlier that day as well. Unlike me, however, he did not have a choice in coming to Tijuana; he had been deported. Since he had lived in San Diego for six years, we talked about everything from beaches in La Jolla to the best places to eat in Old Town. This was the first of many times on Tijuana Spring Breakthrough (TJSB) that we listened to stories of, prayed with, and shared meals with the people of the community.

Pictured below: Students from USD at the border fence on the Mexico side, in Friendship Park. The monument pictured has been there since 1851 and marked the international before the fence was built. 

IMG_7957Over my Spring Break, I went on an immersion trip to Tijuana along with twenty five other students from the University of San Diego. It was not a service trip, but an immersion trip and a chance to experience the community from the ground up. We did this by visiting various places that worked with the poor, the sick, and the rejected and listening to their stories. On our second night in Tijuana, we were paired with host families in La Morita in the eastern part of the ever-expanding city. We had the chance to share in the lives of some of the most generous and selfless people I’ve known. My host family made sure that more than just my basic needs were met; they cared for me and treated me like I was part of the family. I was able to see God working through my host family because they were able to show such love and open their homes to a stranger. My homestay was an awesome way to really be immersed in and gain new insight about the culture and family life of Tijuana. In light of our homestays and our visits to Casa del Migrante, I was able to see immigration and the border fence in a new light. My fellow USD students and I spent a day exploring the economic, humanitarian, and social factors impacting immigration by going to the border fence at the beach and praying for those who have died trying to cross the border into the U.S. Having gotten to know and live with people in Tijuana, I was even more upset at the injustice that the border fence represented. This is just a glimpse of what I did in Tijuana because it is impossible to share everything about the love, heartbreak, optimism, and inspiration that I experienced.

 IMG_8003TJSB was challenging because we saw first hand how a broken system ignores the dignity of people and divides communities. It showed me that even in the face of economic poverty, people are still more than willing to give abundantly of themselves, of their time, and of their talents. Going to Tijuana humbled me by allowing me to experience a community where I felt so welcomed, so cared for, and so incredibly loved.

Pictured on the right: Students sitting on the beach near the border fence in Las Playas.

For me, TJSB was an invitation to step away from what was familiar and comfortable and immerse myself in a different way of living. As a participant on this immersion trip, I was invited to live more simply, to further explore my spirituality, to live in solidarity, and be inspired to work for social justice. I leave you with something that continues to provide me with both comfort in knowing that I cannot do everything and motivation to do everything that I can. It is an excerpt from Archbishop Oscar Romero’s prayer, often called Prophets of a Future Not Our Own:

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”



Elizabeth Stenger is a sophomore at the University of San Diego originally from Oakland, CA. She is majoring in History and minoring in Spanish and she is in the Teaching Credential Program. She is involved in the United Front Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center, and University Ministry.


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U.S./Mexico Border Mass

Posted on 03. Apr, 2014 by .


529beb6c6f684877809a8cf49860c863-72087d56578d4cfd87dfb4ee2d601286-9THE USCCB Immigration Committee and Border Bishops traveled to the U.S./Mexico Border to remember those immigrants who die trying to cross into the U.S.  The trip culminated with a Mass of Remembrance on April 1st.

For more information about the Mass, visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

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Immigrant Youth Coalition & Infographic

Posted on 07. Mar, 2014 by .


Immigrant Youth Coalition:


March is Coming Out of the Shadows month! For more information and to learn more about the Immigrant Youth Coalition, click here.



Enforcement infographic 2013 10 08 color v2

“Excessive Enforcement” Infographic:

Also, if you would like some perspective as to how many people are affected by the excessive enforcement of the unjust immigration laws, view this infographic produced by the National Immigrant Justice Center.

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Migrant Trail Walk

Posted on 27. Feb, 2014 by .


May 25 – June 1, 2014


Registration begins March 1, 2014!

“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.”

For more information, click here!

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“Speaker can’t blame Obama out of immigration reform”

Posted on 20. Feb, 2014 by .


Recently, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a champion of reform, took to the House floor to deliver a blistering speech excoriating Speaker Boehner and his caucus for their timidity and short-sightedness.

For more information, visit the America’s Voice website!

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