Musings of a Mendicant

Habitus non facit monachum These are the musings of Jim McIntosh, OFM — a Franciscan friar working with migrants in El Paso, Texas.

Clothes Make the Migrant

The migrants who bravely navigate the border, evade state troopers, and present themselves to border patrol agents asking for asylum are stripped of almost everything. They arrive at our shelter, their bodies and spirits worn, clad in soiled sweatshirts, sweatpants, and makeshift footwear. The few belongings they are allowed to retain are sealed in a plastic bag: their passports, national identity cards, cell phones, and any currency they have after their long journey. Most of them have spent...
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Where There's a Will

El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, Mexico, are two cities divided by the Rio Grande River (which isn't very "grande" at this point), the border between the two countries. Migrants making their way north to seek asylum in the U.S. are increasingly blocked by the Mexican government—working in cooperation with the U.S. government—from reaching the border region. Those who manage to evade those blockages and reach Cuidad Juárez must figure out what to do next. They have three option...
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Judge Shopping

The right to asylum is an ancient concept in which people oppressed by their own country can find protection in another country. Following the Second World War, nations faced millions of refugees, and they rushed to address the crisis. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to th...
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Tales From the Border

Since moving to the borderlands of the Mexican frontier last year, I have been amazed at what the migrants are willing to go through in seeking a better life for themselves and their children. The causes for migration are numerous: in many areas, gangs and cartels operate openly; in other areas, climate change has made farming impossible; some countries have become failed states and lack basic necessities; LGBT+ persons are among those fleeing persecution because of who they are. I see famili...
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