image of cemetery for migrants who did not make it to asylum.

Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise—Isaiah 60:18

As the debate over building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border continues on Capitol Hill, leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are still processing what they saw and heard in a recent visit to the Texas border.

The church delegation heard about the struggles many migrant families faced as they waited in Mexico for their turn to approach the border or traveled across desert and open areas with little or no food and water. Many, throughout the years, died along the way and were later buried in unmarked, mass graves.

“Customs and border protection are about protecting the border, but they’re also accountable to the laws in this country,” said Amanda Craft, manager of advocacy for the Office of Immigration Issues with the PC(USA). “Asylum laws are supposed to protect the most vulnerable, yet we are creating a process that places them in dangerous situations.” (See Getting in Line: Is there a Line to Seek Asylum in the U.S.?)

“As people of faith, we should see everyone as cherished and be concerned when someone is forced into a dangerous situation or made an impossible choice that caused them to perish alone,” said Teresa Waggener, immigration attorney with the Office of Immigration Issues. “As we continue to systematically close the border, people are going to make difficult and dangerous decisions.”

Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón Olivieri, Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), was among those who visited unmarked graves in Texas and was moved by what she saw and heard.