Bear Witness in Brownsville, Texas

Peaceful Communities

Thousands of college-age revelers are about to descend upon the beautiful beaches on South Padre Island, Texas for their spring break. Just down the road, I will be standing vigil at the Mexican border in Brownsville, witnessing how our government is treating people who are trying to claim asylum as they flee violence in their home countries.

I leave tomorrow and plan on staying three weeks. I’ll try to post some reports on the Peaceful Communities Facebook page while I am down there, but before I go I wanted to invite anyone who would like to observe firsthand what is going on to come down while I’m there. I’ll be happy to show you around and help you understand what you are seeing.

If you come, you’ll definitely want to walk across the bridge into Matamoros, Mexico. It’s safe and it’s an easy walk. The asylum seekers are camped out in tents right outside the border bridge, and they are very friendly to visitors. Bring your passport.

If you want, you can volunteer to prepare food that is being brought each day to feed more than 1,000 people in the camp. You can also, if you like, volunteer to help serve the evening meal.

You might also want to sit in on the immigration courts at the border. Visitors are allowed at preliminary hearings but not at the hearings where final decisions about asylum are made. Even so, you will be able to see how masses of people are processed into a system that in almost all cases will eventually result in their being deported.

If you’re willing to wake up very early, you can join us at the airport to watch as people are loaded onto airplanes – in darkness – to be flown back to the countries they fled. Our government has been trying to hide the planes from us so we can’t photograph what is going on, so we think it is important to show up so they know we are still watching.

And of course, you will want to stand with us on the American side of the border and hold a sign, showing that we are witnessing all that is going on. Volunteers have maintained a daily presences for more than five weeks, and we hope to keep it going.

There are plenty of hotel rooms and B&Bs to stay in, and the weather should be springtime beautiful.

So think about stopping by. I think you will find it worthwhile. I would certainly enjoy the company. And our vigil may just help save lives.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.Peace
Lee@PeacefulCommunities.org