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  • I'm here to honor the sacredness of life

  • that I see at the border in south Texas.

  • In 2014,

  • I visited a detention facility

  • where hundreds of little children,

  • immigrant children,

  • were detained for several weeks

  • in conditions that were very heartbreaking.

  • They were dirty and muddy

  • and crying.

  • Their faces were full of tears.

  • I had the opportunity to go in and be with them.

  • And they were all around me.

  • They were little ones,

  • some of them not older than five years old.

  • And they were saying to me,

  • (Spanish) "Sácame de aquí."

  • "Get me out of here."

  • (Spanish) "Por favor, ayúdame."

  • "Please, help me."

  • It was so difficult to be there with them.

  • I started to cry with them,

  • and I told them,

  • "Let us pray."

  • (Spanish) "Vamos a rezar."

  • And they repeated after me,

  • (Spanish) "Diosito, ayúdanos."

  • "God, please, help us."

  • As we prayed, I could see the Border Patrol officers

  • looking through a glass window.

  • They were at the verge of tears.

  • As they heard the children praying and witness.

  • I had a little boy get close to me, closer,

  • because they were all over,

  • we could barely fit in that little cell.

  • And this little boy tells me,

  • (Spanish) "Ayúdame.

  • Quiero irme con mi mamá."

  • "Please, help me.

  • I want to be with my mother.

  • She is here, I was separated from her."

  • I said to him,

  • "Mijo, if your mom is here,

  • I'm certain you will be reunited."

  • When I walked out of the cell,

  • an officer got close to me and said to me,

  • "Sister, thank you.

  • You have helped us realize

  • that they are human beings."

  • You know, sometimes, no matter what job we have,

  • we must never forget to recognize

  • the humanity in others.

  • Otherwise, we will lose our own humanity.

  • Let me tell you a bit about what I see and what I do

  • in the southern border of the United States

  • where I live and where I work.

  • Hundreds of families enter the United States

  • by crossing the Rio Grande river.

  • And once they are in the United States,

  • many of them are given permission

  • to continue their process of immigration

  • at another point in the United States.

  • What has amazed me for all these years

  • has been the amazing humanitarian response

  • of the community there in south Texas.

  • Thousands of volunteers

  • have given of their time so generously.

  • For me, they're all amazing people.

  • And the whole community,

  • city government,

  • from local business leaders

  • to civic organizations,

  • all faith communities,

  • in the Border Patrol and ICE.

  • We have all come together in an effort to help

  • 150,000 or more immigrants since that first day that we got started.

  • Back in those first days

  • when we were first involved in helping the immigrants,

  • we were at our respite center,

  • and an officer from the city walks in

  • and tells me,

  • "Sister, what are you doing here?"

  • I turned and looked to see what was happening

  • at the respite center.

  • I was amazed at what I was seeing.

  • There were hundreds of volunteers

  • helping so many families there that needed help.

  • Giving them ways to get cleaned up

  • and to get clean clothing, food,

  • hygiene items.

  • Just love and compassion was seen everywhere.

  • So I turned back and I responded to him and I said,

  • "Restoring human dignity.

  • That's what we're doing."

  • I don't think he expected that answer from me,

  • because he took a step back

  • and then approached me again and said,

  • "Sister, if I had a magic wand,

  • what would that magic wand do for you?"

  • "Showers?"

  • Sure enough, that evening we had a mobile unit of eight showers.

  • Amazing.

  • And after that,

  • we had 100 percent support of the city government.

  • We were there,

  • wanting to make sure that we were helping

  • and be successful with our response

  • to so many families that we were seeing

  • every single day.

  • I think that we must help others see

  • what we see.

  • I think it's important

  • that we can share that with others.

  • You probably heard this idea before --

  • that we must always see God's children as equal.

  • But in order to do that,

  • I think it's important to be able to see them

  • as people.

  • To be able to have a personal encounter,

  • when we can feel what they feel,

  • when we can understand what they're hurting.

  • To really meet up with them.

  • It is then that we are present to them

  • and we can make their humanity

  • a part of our own humanity.

  • And we'd recognize

  • that we are all part of the same human family.

  • During those days,

  • I had a lady approach me and tell me,

  • "Sister, I am 100 percent against what you do,

  • helping these illegal aliens."

  • And I said to her,

  • "Let me tell you what I do and why."

  • So I shared with her and introduced her to the families and the children,

  • shared the stories that they are living.

  • When I finished talking with her,

  • she turns and looks at me and says,

  • "Sister, I am 100 percent in favor of what you do."

  • (Laughter and applause)

  • That evening, her husband calls me,

  • he tells me,

  • "Sister, I don't know what you did to my wife.

  • But this evening she came home and she said,

  • 'If Sister Norma ever calls you,

  • you make sure you do what she tells you.'

  • So I'm just reporting to let you know I'm here to help in any way."

  • Well, you know ...

  • I'm thinking that --

  • was it a personal encounter that she had?

  • I think it's a nice idea, a nice message,

  • but I don't think it's the whole story.

  • In that encounter, we must put aside our prejudice that we have toward others,

  • that separate us and don't allow us to see them,

  • our walls that we put up in our own heart

  • that keep us separated from others.

  • When we are able to do that,

  • we're able to reach out to them.

  • You know, I think what doesn't make it possible is fear --

  • that we're afraid.

  • And because we're afraid --

  • more than likely it's because we've seen in the media

  • all this negative rhetoric that we hear about immigrants,

  • they are demonized, like they're not human,

  • that we can discard them

  • and we can get rid of them,

  • and not even feel bad that we're doing that.

  • Immigrant families are not criminals.

  • Immigrant families are like our families,

  • like our neighbors.

  • They're good people

  • who are entering our country and coming to the United States

  • only simply because they're fleeing away from violence

  • and they want to be safe.

  • Unfortunately, what we see at the border

  • is terrible.

  • People are hurting and suffering.

  • Thousands of them are.

  • And mostly I feel

  • it's because of those walls that we put up,

  • that we have in our hearts,

  • that makes us not care.

  • So we have policies

  • that are returning people back to Mexico,

  • so they can wait.

  • And they wait there for months.

  • In conditions that are horrible,

  • where people are suffering and hurting.

  • Abuses.

  • And not even the means to be OK.

  • I think that it is true

  • that we must keep our country safe,

  • that we must make sure who enters our country,

  • that criminals should be put away.

  • But it is also true

  • that we must not lose our humanity in doing this.

  • That we must have policies and procedures

  • that do not contribute to the human suffering

  • that people are already suffering.

  • And that we can find solutions that are respectful to all human life.

  • We can do this,

  • if we can allow the best in us to come out.

  • Because what I see at the border

  • are families, men, who will take a child

  • and will try to comfort that child that is crying

  • because that child is crying for their own dad.

  • And these men are crying with that child.

  • I see men and women who drop to their knees,

  • praying.

  • As they pray in thanksgiving.

  • I see children who have been separated from their parents for months.

  • And when they're reunited,

  • they're afraid to separate themselves from them,

  • because they're afraid they will lose their mom again.

  • Once a child looked up to me after she was reunited

  • and she said to me,

  • (Spanish) "Hoy no voy a llorar."

  • "Today I'm not going to cry."

  • And I said, (Spanish) "Por qué, mi hija?"

  • She said, "Because I have been crying for the past whole month,

  • because I didn't know where my mother was.

  • But tonight, I'm going to be with her."

  • The day I visited the detention facility back in 2014,

  • there was a little boy who approached me and asked me

  • for me to help him find his mom.

  • Well, that evening, when I was at the humanitarian respite center,

  • the little boy walked in with his mother.

  • And as soon as he spotted me,

  • he runs toward me, I go down to greet him,

  • and he just throws himself to hug me.

  • It was so beautiful,

  • that was truly a beautiful human encounter.

  • I think it's humanity at its best.

  • It is what we all are called to do.

  • Think about it.

  • We just need to allow ourselves to get close enough to see,

  • and we will care.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm here to honor the sacredness of life

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Restoring human dignity at the US southern border | Norma Pimentel

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/03
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