Reflection by Abbie & Annika
Today was our fifth full day on the Border Immersion. To start the day off, we drove to hear from the Florence Project, the only organization in Arizona offering free legal services to immigrants. People are ten times more likely to win their case if they are represented by a lawyer in court. Most immigrants are unable to pay for such a luxury. Hearing a personal story of a young woman the Florence Project was able to help was incredibly impactful and solidified the understanding of the need for the services they provide.
Upon arriving back at BorderLinks, we dove into an “immigration simulation” where each of us played the role of an individual attempting to navigate the United States’ immigration system. This exercise was meant to provide an answer to the question of “Why don’t they just get in line and come over legally?” The answer was disheartening with white, skilled, privileged, European men consistently finding the easiest way to navigate the system and black and/or brown, unskilled, impoverished, usually South and Central American men and women either having to wait eleven to forty years to begin the process or just being denied entry outright. These extreme differences in people’s accessibility to begin or continue through the system occurred regardless of their actual need for U.S. residency.
Our heavy week was interrupted this afternoon with a few hours of light-hearted exploration. First, our delegation leader, Josué introduced us to one of his go-to restaurants, Crossroads, where we enjoyed an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet. Then, we ventured out to San Xavier Mission, a mission built on Native American land. While we were there, many of us admired and bought locally crafted pieces of art, lit candles and prayed inside, and wandered up a hill that offered a beautiful vista of the Arizona countryside.
DACAmented Voices in Healthcare presented their project to us after our return from our day trip. The project consisted of using Photo Voice as a method of research to explore DACA recipients’ experiences with the United States’ healthcare system. Seeing the images the participants created and the texts paired with them reminded and proved to us how powerful photographs can be in telling an individual’s story. Both presenters shared their personal experiences, which left many of us deeply impacted. Our admiration for these individuals is exponential.
We finished the day with a reflection that, although many of us felt disheartened, left us with a feeling of love highlighted by a beautiful desert sunset.