It has been a remarkably interesting three months from the fourth floor at the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana. The virus has not disappeared, and to be honest, I doubt that it ever will. So, the question on everyone’s mind is, “How do we move forward?” Well a few things are certain: 1) You need to wear a mask; 2) You need to stay six feet from people you do not live with; 3) You need to wash your hands very often. It seems to be a rather simple roadmap to success, but for some reason, a lot of people do not get it. Meanwhile, after almost five months confined to the fourth floor, with an occasional trip to the US Post Office, I came to the conclusion that I cannot stay on the fourth floor forever and we cannot keep the Casa closed indefinitely.
The coronavirus pandemic’s heroes are the “essential worker,” the medical professionals tending the sick, the bus drivers and train conductors taking those professionals to work and home again, the ambulance crews bringing the desperately ill to the hospital, and the letter carriers, truck drivers, and bicyclists delivering mail, medicine, and food. For nineteenth and early twentieth-century immigrants, clergy were also essential workers.
Migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons have always been of special concern to the Catholic Church. Thus, it comes as little surprise that the Holy See inspired, influenced and participated with great interest in the historic development of a global strategy to respond to migrants and refugees, leading to the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in December of 2018. The Catholic Church’s work on the GCR and GCM included not only the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development, but also bishops’ conferences, religious orders and congregations, Catholic institutions of all kinds, and Catholic-inspired non-governmental organizations.
If COVID-19 attacks places like Tijuana with vigor, we are in for a catastrophe. In the meantime, many border shelters have made some difficult decisions.
This paper sets forth a typology to better understand the motivations of volunteers working to help migrants at the US-Mexico border who are in need of humanitarian assistance. The typology is centered on empathic concern, differentiating secular/faith-based motivations, and deontological/moral-virtue motivations. It offers four categories of humanitarian volunteers: the Missionary Type, the Good Samaritan Type, the Do Gooder Type, and the Activist Type. And, it sets forth additional self-centered (non-altruistic, or not-other-centered) types: Militant, Crusader, Martyr, and Humanitarian Tourist. This typology can help organizations working with migrants and refugees better understand and channel the enthusiasm of their volunteers and better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations they serve.
This episode of CMSOnAir features an interview with Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso Texas. CMS’s communications coordinator Emma Winters asks Bishop Seitz about his recent pastoral letter, “Night Will Be No More.” The letter, a direct response to the August 3  Walmart massacre, condemns racism and white supremacy, examines the legacy of hate in the borderlands, and says to all: “Tú vales, you count.” Bishop Seitz also discusses the 2019 Border Mass, the El Paso Diocese fund to aid asylum seekers stuck in Ciudad Juarez, and why families should be at the heart of our immigration system.
In early 2019 life at the Casa changed dramatically when men started arriving with children. “We were being invited to become more welcoming to an entirely new population,” writes Fr. Pat Murphy, c.s. in this blog. “I am amazed at how rapidly things can change in the world of migration and how rapidly we are invited to adapt in helping the migrants we are called to serve. The good news is that I believe we have adapted well to serving our new population at the Casa.”