For the fourth straight year, the ERCBNA Province and students and staff from Bishop Hendricken, Brother Rice Michigan, Catholic Memorial and Iona Preparatory traveled to Brownsville, Texas for the fourth annual Brownsville, Texas immersion trip. Here, participants served at a number of sites in order to learn about the realities of immigration in Brownsville, across the United States, and beyond. With immigration again at the forefront of daily discussions in the Unites States, a total of 21 students and 5 staff members from these schools traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas to learn about the realities of immigration, from “ground zero” of the immigration debate.
The group learned about immigration through a number of activities, including spending time at the Catholic Charities Respite Center. This center is the first stop for immigrants after receiving temporary asylum and being released from Immigration and Customs (ICE) at the border. Students learned about the incredibly difficult circumstances that immigrants face and provided them with a hot meal and clean clothing. Students also spent time at La Posada, a residence for migrants and their families who are seeking asylum in the United States from all parts of the world. Students here completed a number of different projects, tutored residents in English, and spent time playing with the many children living there. Students also learned about the complexities of the current immigration debate from their teachers, who presented each day on various immigration topics, such as state laws on immigration and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) stipulations.
In Brownsville, the immersion group also visited Guadalupe Regional Middle School, an ERCBNA school and the only tuition free Catholic middle school in Texas. Here, the group repainted the school’s basketball court, completed a number of different projects for the school, and hosted Guadalupe’s 8th grade students at a BBQ in the courtyard. The
students had the opportunity to share conversations at lunch about their commonalities as ERCBNA students. The immersion group also had the opportunity to hear from Guadalupe’s President Mike Motyl over an authentic Mexican dinner provided by the school.
The immersion trip was an incredible experience for the group and opened the eyes of students and staff members to the truths of immigration that aren’t often reported on the news. The group thanks Br. Steve Casey for organizing the trip, Guadalupe Regional Middle School for hosting the group and to the many recent immigrants who shared their stories with complete strangers. The group’s prayer is that the immigration debate in the United States changes to one of compassion and understanding.