22 February 2018
BORDERLANDS: Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quinteros ¡PRESENTE!
by John Heid
|Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quinteros|
Tuesday, 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.
A 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 unknowing.
Josseline 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.
The 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.”
PRESENTE 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.
Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quninteros ¡PRESENTE!