The Migrant Trail is a walk of solidarity and awareness of those who have died crossing the Mexico-US border. Our friend, Jonathan Ziegler joined a group of about 60 others from around the country from May 28 to June 5th, walking from Sasabe, Mexico to Tucson, AZ. He went as part of our Solidarity Beyond Borders compassion team, which focuses on issues of immigration. Through the support of this team (both in prayer and with some money), we were all part of the journey.
He said, “I’m going first to bear witness to the borderlands and the darkness where many people die out of desperation for a better life—and the inhumanity of our border laws and patrols that push people into dangerous journeys in the desert.
I’m also going to personally gain some experience that can fuel our passion around immigration—I’m excited about our team and want to contribute to the momentum we have on this issue.
Also, personally, I’m excited to connect with others who are experienced in working on immigration issues and for the physical journey of walking and camping in the desert—this will be a prayerful time as well as a physical challenge.”
Here’s the vision of the Migrant Trail since 2004:
The precarious reality of our borderlands calls us to walk. We are a spiritually diverse, multi-cultural group who walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died, others who have crossed, and people who continue to come. We bear witness to the tragedy of death and of the inhumanity in our midst. Lastly, we make this sacred journey as a community, in defiance of the borders that attempt to divide us, committed to working together for the human dignity of all peoples.
And here is a recent New York Times article that covers a few angles of current information about deaths in the borderlands. Use it to help you pray about this issue and the people who are caught up and dying in this crisis.
When Jonathan got back from his witness trip, he had a lot to share:
“I really appreciated spending time with folks from that region who work directly with immigrants in the borderlands.
- Experiencing the town of Sasabe, Mexico was meaningful to me—it showed how drastically conditions change right on the other side of the big fence at the border.
- I learned that the U.S.’s increase of militarization of the border in recent years is the main cause of deaths in the desert because people are pushed into more remote and dangerous areas for their journey.
- While feeling frustrated at the waste of money on border patrol (they drove up and down the road constantly—people told me there’s so many of them, they just get bored), we also valued maintaining a friendly and respectful relationship with the actual people in the border patrol—consider this as a type of loving our enemies. This got me to think about how we respond to police here in our own city. How do we stand up to the powers while loving our enemies in a way that might just transform them?
- While we were walking one day, a group called No More Deaths contacted us to send four people to help search for a lost migrant. It turned out that he was found and helped by the time they got to the location, but just being around that and having friends who were heading out to search really moved me. Keep praying for the groups that are on the ground saving lives in the desert—it’s a treacherous journey!
- Politically speaking, some conversations helped me get beyond the divisive talk of building a wall or no wall. Politicians aren’t listening and the whole conversation needs to change. Just saying “we welcome immigrants” isn’t enough. What might actually save lives would be to develop economies in Mexico and other countries so that people could stay with their families and not feel the desperation to take the deadly journey.
I’m looking forward to continuing to explore how our Solidarity Beyond Borders team might continue to work with immigrants here in our own city!”
Here’s a news article with even more details about this year’s walk, if you’re interested. https://m.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/desert-ordeal/Content?oid=9242184
Here is an article from The Guardian that reveals a recent action that represents how little we know about what is going on. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/16/us-mexico-border-aid-camp-raid