SaveAsylum: Resiliency, Agency, & Hope from Desperation

BY SARA RITCHIE | February 26, 2021

This week, I gave a presentation to Fairfield University about the realities of the border, and someone from the crowd asked, “how do you not burn out?” I am actively working on not reaching burnout as we speak. 

The border is a harsh place to be. It breaks you down. And then it either burns you out or it builds you up. 

SaveAsylum, desperation

[Image: Kino Border Initiative]

This work has most certainly broken me down. I have internalized the stories and the sentiments of migrants in a way that literally hurts—my body hurts sometimes to know of the suffering that migrants endure, first in their home countries and now at the border.

I am surrounded by people who are constantly breaking down as a result of their compounded desperation. However, that desperation takes on a whole new shape at the border, which I find hard to describe, partly because I don’t live it personally. 

As I write this, I picture the faces of migrants and the stories they’ve told me—being forced to give the gangs the deed to their house, seeing siblings killed while walking through the neighborhood, watching the hurricane wash away their livelihood. The desperation they must feel to leave behind all they’ve ever known is mind-boggling. However, it certainly solidifies the notion that “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark; you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.” [from “Home” by Warsan Shire

SaveAsylum, hope, resiliency

Leaders of the SaveAsylum movement. [Image: Kino Border Initiative]

They are here at the border, literally able to see the United States. But the steel beams tower over the two countries, reminding us all that they are only permeable to a select, privileged few. 

The country on the other side of the border said to “Give me…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” And with exactly that on its doorstep, the U.S. has so easily tossed aside and abandoned that promise.

The relief that migrants thought arriving at the border would bring, instead, has only worsened their state of desperation. They are stuck, unable to return home and begging and pleading for protection. It seems like their options have run out.  

Or so you would think. Just when I thought there was no other option than burn-out, they created a movement—the SaveAsylum movement. Out of their desperation, they have carved out their own agency and activism. I invite everyone to learn about SaveAsylum and recognize  both the desperation and resiliency in the migrants who march and organize in Nogales, Sonora. For me, they have been of immense inspiration and truly built me up in my work. 

2 replies
  1. RJ Andes
    RJ Andes says:

    I respect people that at least attempt to try and help but even those that have never ventured out and seen the abandoned camps and the places infested by cartel members are thinking why would you put yourself in that position.

    The problem I see is that we are told that the people wanting to cross the border are in a desperate situation ? But is it true ? I’ve sat down and spoke with friends ( and seen it myself ) that have come from South America and they paint a completely different picture to what people are saying.

    People ( future immigrants ) are also willingly handed over currency, homes and valuables to the cartel knowing very well this is put back in to crime that affects there own country and mine, isn’t that wrong ?

    I’m not a bad person thinking the way I do and deep down I do have sympathy for those who are REALLY in a troublesome position but there are a high amount that want to cross the border and either not contribute to society or towards the upkeep of our GREAT country.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *