By: Savin Mattozzi ~Copy Editor~
Despite the increasingly hostile climate for immigrants in the U.S., especially from Middle Eastern and Latin American countries, Xavier’s Alternative Breaks program sent students to the U.S.- Mexico to better understand the happenings on both sides of the border.
In Dec. of 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 1,094 hate crimes between Nov. 9 and Dec. 12. Of those, nearly 30 percent were directed at immigrants or perceived immigrants.
In February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)conducted raids in multiple states that resulted in the arrest of more that 680 people in less than one week.
Several news outlets including The Intercept noted that a quarter of those arrested had no prior criminal record.
Every spring break, the Center for Faith and Justice organizes trips to educate students on the issues facing marginalized communities across the country and the Americas.
The trip, which was entitled ‘Immigration: A Look into a Difficult journey,’ took students to the U.S.- Mexico border to look at and the U.S. law enforcement at border patrol posts.
In an attempt to get different perspectives on the issue of immigration, students met with immigrants and border patrol officials and attended a presentation given by a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Students were able to see an ICE detention center, and the process by which people are detained, how they can get citizenship and how they are deported back to their home country.
Katherine Hohl a junior nursing major felt uneasy entering the detention c enter.
“The detainees stared at us, and for good reason: we were a bunch of college kids looking at them like they were in a zoo.” Hohl said.
Natalie Cortino, a junior advertising, public relations and digital media major and member of the trip recalls one of the most vivid moments that remained stuck in her me mory.
“…In Las Cruces, New Mexico, we watched the sentencing of 15 immigrants who were being sent back to their home country,” Cortino said.
Each of these individuals had their hands and feet shackled.”
She also spoke on the atmosphere within the detention center.
“I expected that I would feel like I was being invasive,” Cortino said. “These immigrants are trying to live their lives in the best possible way they can, and we’re just intruding. However, I was surprised that the community at Cristo Rey accepted us with open arms.”
Hohl said that the expereince c hanged he r.
“I met some of the most amazing and inspiring people, and I will never forget them. This trip was a life-changing experience and gave me a different perspective on immigration that I would have never had otherwise.”