I recently found myself looking out upon a room of about 100 Mexican asylum seekers at Kino Border Initiative’s migrant aid center in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Despite the cold, and the fact that many carried children in tow, the room was brimming with people who wanted to respond to the injustice they were experiencing as they waited their turn to be processed at the port of entry and begin their asylum proceedings. Beyond the burden of waiting months in limbo, the people who showed up that cold day also carried the frustration of knowing that other more recent arrivals were paying bribes to be processed right away.During the town-hall style meeting, we made space to both acknowledge that any wait for people fleeing persecution to seek asylum was unjust, and to imagine what accountability would look like given our current reality. Individuals approached the microphone one by one to name improvements they would want authorities to make. A group formed to take turns holding vigil at the port of entry to witness irregularities in who was being processed, knowing that role carries with it the risk of openly challenging an unjust system in a country where corruption is rampant.
We are not assured of when the light will come. Are we willing to continue repairing and restoring, persevering in #radicalhope for a light we may not see? #LentClick to tweet
The people who filled that room and who continue to show up seeking justice would be described by the prophet Isaiah as repairers of the breach. I’d like to bestow on these brave souls the same assurance Isaiah’s words carry in their comforting “if, then” formula: if you work to overcome oppression, then you will have plenty. If you work for just distribution of resources, then you will have renewed strength. But the reality often appears different: justice seekers are silenced, threatened, or face violence. The sting of Isaiah’s words is that they don’t come with a timeline. We are not assured of when the light will come. The question that remains for us then is this: are we willing to continue repairing and restoring, persevering in radical hope anyway, for a light we may not see?
Tracey Horan, S.P., is a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and education coordinator for the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora and Arizona. She has ministered with Latinx migrant communities in a variety of contexts for nearly a decade. She previously worked as a teacher and then community organizer, and recently celebrated 5 years as a religious sister.