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An Immigration Series: Introduction

| Monday, February 15, 2016

As the first part of the year-long course the Mexico-U.S. Border Immersion Seminar, students met in the fall to learn about various topics and perspectives about this border (especially the Arizona-Sonora area) and related immigration issues. Among other things, they read, wrote about and discussed different theories about why people migrate, the perils people face when crossing, the dynamics of faith-based humanitarian efforts and the consequences of border policy.

Then, during the first week of January, students traveled to the Southern Arizona borderlands to experience directly the realities of immigration. Their activities included talking with Border Patrol agents, trekking through the desert on a humanitarian trip, observing immigrant court proceedings, seeing everyday life in border communities and hearing stories about migrants’ difficult journeys and continued struggles for those who made it.

Now, in the spring semester, students are back on campus in the classroom to process and reflect on their immersion trip. They seek to better understand what they experienced through conversations, writings and readings. Students also desire to share their feelings, thoughts and perspectives with the larger Notre Dame community. Their Viewpoint article this week are one attempt to do so.

These pieces are very timely. Pope Francis is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to highlight the gaping wound in immigration policy. This Wednesday, for instance, he will pray at the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of displaced people continue to die every year. His trip to Mexico’s northern border will come at the end of a week-ago visit to Mexico.

Earlier in the week, he will travel to Mexico’s southern border region where many Central Americans cross on their way north. One of the Pope’s first stops will be the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to highlight the faith that unifies people of Mexico and the Americas. The pope will also visit other areas to bring attention to the significance of family, young people, workers, indigenous communities and prisoners. To continue the central message of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is expected to bring attention to the violence, corruption and indifference that disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized.

Pope Francis has said that he does not want his visit to gloss over the raw issues affecting Mexico and border communities. Rather, he wants to exhort people to fight against injustice. Students’ Viewpoint articles this week are in that spirit and aim to generate discussion and dialogue in the hope of promoting a more dignified system of immigration.

See the first installment of the series at:



Kraig Beyerlein, Instructor of Mexico-U.S. Border Immersion Seminar

Assistant Professor of Sociology


Bryant Crubaugh, Graduate Student Leader

Sociology Ph.D. Candidate 


Leo Guardado, Graduate Student Leader

Peace Studies and Theology Ph.D. Candidate


Katrina Linden, Undergraduate Student Leader




The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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