BY ISN STAFFFebruary 16, 2016

During Pope Francis’s historic visit to the border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico this Wednesday, February 17, thousands affiliated with Jesuit institutions and the broader church across the U.S. will echo his call for a compassionate response toward migrants by holding masses, erecting “mock border walls,” and signing a letter to members of Congress.

The nationwide campaign, called “Pope2Border” is being coordinated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), a national Catholic social justice advocacy organization working primarily with Jesuit institutions.

[SOURCE: Manhattan College]

A #Pope2Border border wall on the campus of Manhattan College draws attention to Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S.-Mexico border on February 17. [SOURCE: Manhattan College]

Boston College, Creighton University, and Manhattan College are among over 25 Catholic schools and parishes nationwide that will hold masses or prayer services in a display of solidarity with Pope Francis’s mass at Benito Juarez Stadium on February 17th. ISN has distributed resources to be used in hosting the masses. Other Pope2Border activities include in-district visits with members of Congress, community dialogues on migration policy, and building “mock border walls” to bring awareness to the plight of migrants.

“Students are excited to engage in this important act of solidarity by Pope Francis,” said Beth Ford, a campus minister at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.  Saint Joseph’s students will meet with Senator Pat Toomey’s office to discuss U.S. policy toward Central American migrants as well as U.S. immigration policy.  Saint Joseph’s is also hosting a prayer service in front of a mock border wall on campus and will offer a livestream viewing of the Pope’s homily in Ciudad Juárez.  Nationally, ISN also plans to send to U.S. Congress a letter with thousands of signatures urging an end to U.S. support for Mexican interceptions of Central Americans fleeing violence, as well as an end to border militarization and other controversial immigration enforcement actions.

During his visit, Pope Francis is expected to champion the human rights of migrants from the Northern Triangle region of Central America, where soaring violence has driven thousands of people to seek safety in the U.S. by making a treacherous journey through Mexico. His trip comes amid a heated 2016 presidential race with vigorous disagreements surrounding migrants.

“In an election year, this is a strategic appeal to our lawmakers to remember the human dignity of those who are forced to migrate, many of whom live and work in our midst,” said ISN executive director Christopher Kerr. “We have a powerful opportunity to act for humane migration policy while the world is watching what Francis will do and say as he meets with migrants at the border.”

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