Another side of immigration
It's midday in the sweltering heat of the United States/Mexican border. A line is drawn in the dirt. The north side is considered the land of dreams, which is why many risk their lives to cross over. This is a reality for thousands of Mexican migrants whose only wish is to make a better life for themselves and their families in the U.S.
On Tuesday, May 25 the Santa Monica College Associated Students sponsored a lecture by Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angles, a non-profit human rights organization. Border Angles, along with more than 1,000 volunteers, is taking a passionate, non-violent stand towards the fair treatment of the people crossing the U.S./Mexican border.
Their mission is to stop the staggering number of unnecessary deaths caused by extreme heat and weather conditions of those crossing the border around the Imperial Valley desert and the mountains surrounding San Diego County.
The lecture hall in the HSS building slowly filled as a video highlighting the work of Border Angels played on the projector. It showed water jugs strategically placed to afford migrants much-needed hydration, riddled with bullet holes – done by white supremacists, according to Morones. Many immigrants die of dehydration during their perilous crossing.
The video also featured members of Minutemen: a group highly opposed to immigration that Morones said is a "racist movement" that must be stopped.
"When I look out [in the audience] I see many members of my race - the human race," opened Morones, who proceeded to focus upon the importance of humane treatment for all races, and called attention to the positive benefits of immigration.
Morones and his volunteers travel along the border to rescue stations they have set up in order to stock them with essential supplies needed for survival. In the spring and summer months the stations are supplied with water. During the winter they add clothing and food to the storage bins.
Every day, "one to three people die crossing the border… over 10,000 people have died since 1994," said Morones, who humanized the statistics by reading letters that have been written to him by families of surviving migrants.
Gelsyn Lopez, a first year business administration major at SMC, was in attendance at the lecture. Lopez said that he has a brother, who crossed the border six years ago, and was pelted with rocks as he made a mad dash onto a moving train that made its way across the border.
Lopez said that his brother, formally educated with a degree in letters and science, risked his life in order to join the rest of his family in the U.S. He is "deeply saddened" by the way his brother was treated and believes that there should be a way for immigrants to work in the U.S.
Morones believes that the most important thing students can do is to really get behind their cause.
"The change we want to see in the world begins with the person we look at every morning in the mirror," Morones said. "The voice that says the most is the one that says nothing."
To volunteer or for more information about Border Angels visit their website at www.borderangels.org.