Fighting for Hope: La Frontera

Chris Bello (’21), Monique Candiff (’21), and Tara Ohrtman (’21) in partnership with HOPE Border Institute interviewed twenty migrants who are living in shelters and tent camps, or are essentially homeless, in Ciudad Juárez because they have been returned to Mexico under the United States’ “Remain in Mexico” policy. Recounting the extreme hardship, abuse, violence, and trauma these migrants are suffering, the students drafted a report on the human rights conditions for which Mexico may be held accountable under international law.

“Our first day in Ciudad Juárez, we successfully accompanied a sick, elderly Cuban migrant across the border. The victory was small but it gave us hope that progress could still be made and she might receive the health care and justice she deserves. However, we later found out that she was eventually returned to Mexico and passed away from a stroke less than two months later. Although it sometimes feels like some obstacles are insurmountable, this instance served as a reminder that we must keep fighting for human rights along the border.” Chris Bello

“It’s easy to be horrified by the events occurring down at the border intellectually.  But actually going down to Juárez, and interacting firsthand with families suffering through hunger and cold and fear, brought the humanitarian crisis at the border home to me in an entirely different manner.  Of course, I knew going in that the United States has been unlawfully turning people in crisis away from the border daily.  But conceptual understanding is so indescribably far from the experience of interviewing the resilient migrants in Juárez, who have to keep believing that their situation will improve and they will eventually reach the United States safely.  However, it’s also so difficult to cope with the overall hopelessness of the situation, where every small step towards helping someone is met with obstacles and barriers.” Tara Ohrtman