I needed to take a few days before I wrote a reflection about my experience en la frontera. After a week of documenting abuses by border patrol, completing long term deportation impact surveys and overhearing conversation of families hearing the voice of their loved one for the first time since they left home, I am able to write. I am still wrapping my brain around the experience, when people ask me my “spring break” I am not sure how to respond. Do I smile and say it was okay so I don’t need to engage or do I let them know of the heart ache I witnessed? I choose the latter.
I stand witness for people that have been subject to the mistreatment that agreements like NAFTA have created. I stand witness to the inhumane treatment of our neighbors. I stand witness to the cries of a father speaking to his family for the first time in 8 days. I stand witness to the children who travel with loved ones seeking to see their mothers and fathers, many for the first time in years. I stand witness to the young men that travel to el norte to seek a better future for themselves. I stand witness of the injustice that occurs daily at 1:30 pm at a courthouse in Tucson, where 70 migrants a day are charged with petty misdemeanors yet shackled by the waist, ankles and hands like violent criminals.
I cringed as I heard forty times “culpable” or guilty as the judge charged them with the crime of seeking a better future for themselves and their families. I stand witness to their stories, for I will never forget.