Steve and Molly Saunders spoke recently at the Cary Memorial Library in Wayne. Former Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador, they were recruited as volunteer translators in El Paso for people seeking asylum at our Southern border. As fate would have it, during their stay they actually visited the Walmart where 20 people were recently gunned down in one of the 10 safest cities in America, a city invaded by a white supremacist rather than by migrants.

Residents of El Paso and Juarez, across the Rio Grande from each other, typically have family members in both cities and travel across the border frequently for work, business and personal reasons, despite the long lines at border security.

No one in El Paso seems to have a problem accepting those seeking asylum, and in fact, until recently, over 1,000 asylum seekers were being welcomed at the facilities run by Annunciation House, staffed and supported entirely by volunteers.

People seeking asylum are in desperate need of welcome; in the course of processing by Immigration and Border Control, people from the northern triangle of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are stripped of their documents, money, shoelaces, belts, and, prior to the intervention of Annunciation House, were being discharged, after processing, to the bus station or streets of El Paso without money, documents, shoelaces or belts. These are people who need our help, but at the same time have perseverance, warmth, ingenuity, and a work ethic that would benefit us all.

I left the event with mixed emotions: sadness and anger at the inhumanity and illegality of the Trump administration’s policies towards people seeking asylum, and thankfulness and admiration for fellow citizens who have volunteered to assist them.

We can do our part by pressuring the administration to obey the letter and spirit of the domestic and international laws protecting those seeking asylum.

 

Philippa Solomon

Readfield

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