The number of migrants daily entering the United States to request asylum has risen so rapidly in the last six months that US Border Patrol, US Customs, and the immigration court and detention system are now overwhelmed. The Port of Entry at Lukeville, Arizona, has been closed and personnel from that port are now assisting Border Patrol to deal with the increasing numbers of people coming across the border. Asylum seekers might be returned to Mexico, but most likely, those who are not from Mexico will probably receive a court date and be released into the US to await their hearing. However, since the systems are so overwhelmed with the large numbers of people, Border Patrol is now simply releasing hundreds of migrant people onto the streets of border towns, especially in Texas and Arizona.
Since September, hundreds of people from all over the world have been transported daily to the small town of Douglas, Arizona, (population 17,000) and left to the mercy of the local community. Yet, without much choice in the matter, the government and faith leaders of Douglas have welcomed these new arrivals and helped them on the next step of their journey to travel to their US sponsors. The people of Douglas have responded with love and hospitality. The Parish Hall of the local Catholic Church has become a shelter where new arrivals can get something to eat, receive information, and possibly spend the night. Every day, a bus from the state of Arizona arrives to take people to Tucson. But oftentimes, there are more people than there are spaces on the bus, and now local groups are also helping with transportation.
As increasing numbers of people arrive, the resources of Douglas are stretched thinner and thinner. Where will tomorrow’s lunch come from? Who can staff the shelter this weekend? Who will provide gas money for the local bus? But just as the ones coming across the border show courage and resiliency every day, so too do the people of Douglas. Many have offered what they can, and it always seems to be enough for the day.
- Pray for all those who are travelling and who put their lives into the hands of strangers along the way.
- Pray for US Border Patrol and Customs as they encounter ever larger numbers of people in the Arizona and Texas desert.
- Give thanks for the local officials and the numerous volunteers who help the migrant people who arrive daily in Douglas and other border cities in Arizona and Texas.
- Pray that US government officials will overcome their differences to find solutions that are humane and just.
- Pray for those people in the United States who are genuinely afraid and feel threatened by the migrants will find their hearts and minds softened.