22 February 2018
BORDERLANDS: Josseline Jamileth Hernandez
by John Heid
|Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quinteros|
20 February marked the tenth anniversary of the death of fourteen-year-old
Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quinteros from El Salvador. Her remains were
discovered in remote Cedar Canyon near Arivaca, AZ seven miles north of the
U.S.-Mexico border. Efforts to rescue her had failed. Since mid-January
humanitarian aid workers had combed the area after receiving reports from her
family members that Josseline had become ill while crossing the Sonoran desert
and couldn’t continue. “She was just a little girl. She was on her way to see
her mother,” said a Tucson human rights activist.
full decade has passed since Josseline died. Untold thousands have crossed
since then. Untold numbers are unaccounted for, consumed by policies which have
forced young and old alike into unforgiving desert terrain. Consumed by
bipartisan failure to create a humanitarian immigration policy. Consumed by
national unawareness, sometimes apathy, sometimes xenophobia. A cloud of
is one of many. Yet we do not know who they are. Most death certificates at the
Pima County Corner’s Office have no names. We call these Desconocidas or
Desconocidos. The unknown ones.
geographical terrain of this holy season, Lent, is the desert. Mystics and
prophets sought this austere terrain for reflection, prayer, and sacrifice. May
we find those places inside ourselves and search for deeper truths. Brighter
light to guide our feet. There is no time for guilt. That won’t serve the
contemporary Josselines anyway. What is needed, as Father Dan Berrigan once
said, are “mystics with feet.”
literally means one is still present among us, even though their bodies are
not. Josseline lives each time we remember her death. And her life… and open
our hearts and eyes to what’s happening in our deserts, our communities, our
nation. And resurrect.
Jamileth Hernandez Quninteros ¡PRESENTE!