At 7:00 PM on Wednesday, July 14, a Mass in Response to Violence on the Border will be held at the Placita de Leones, next to the downtown Santa Fe Bridge.
We extend to you and all residents of our border community an invitation to this call for justice and a request to join with Bishop Armando Ochoa of El Paso and Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, in the celebration of this special Mass.
For years now, the hope has been that Congress would find the courage and leadership to pass a just and comprehensive immigration reform law. U.S. Catholic Bishops have been relentless in calling for immigration reform legislation and been at the forefront in advocating for the human rights of immigrants and the undocumented. But the reality is that not only has Congress failed to act, but the Federal Government has been aggressively pursuing an enforcement-only immigration policy that has created a vacuum into which cities and States have stepped in to pass their own anti-immigrant laws. This was vividly demonstrated by the recent signing of Arizona’s SB1070 law. In the name of national security, terrorism protection, and the war on drugs, the real intention of laws like SB 1070 is to persecute the immigrant.
The failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the implementation of an enforcement-only approach to the immigration issue, and the onslaught of hostility toward the immigrant in the media has led to growing violence against the immigrant. This violence takes the form of immigrants dying in the desert, families torn apart by immigration raids, the criminal prosecution and jailing of undocumented immigrants who only seek to feed their families, increased trafficking of immigrants, and employment exploitation. For the US/Mexico border, this has meant increased fire-power with calls for even more border agents, the deployment of the National Guard, drones, detention facilities, and the general militarization of border communities. The policy of enforcement and more enforcement in an environment in which the immigrant is vilified and demonized is turning neighbors into enemies. The fruit of enforcement-only policies was seen on June 7th with the shooting death of a teenager on the banks of the Rio Grande, and on May 25th with the death of a 35 year old man in San Ysidro, and on July of 2009 with the shooting death of a Border Patrol agent in Campo California.
There are thousands of undocumented families living in hiding in El Paso, Las Cruces and surrounding communities. Many border citizens have come across undocumented immigrants and have gone out of their way to seek ways of helping and assisting what most of us know to be primarily good and decent human beings. All of us know of families living in hiding, living in fear in our midst. The hostility against the immigrant has led many people to see the undocumented as disposable people – individuals of no account. It falls on each community to define for itself whether it will permit there to be disposable people. We invite you to join us for the Mass so that as a community we can affirm that no life is or can ever be disposable.
Set aside Wednesday, July 14 at 7:00 PM and commit yourself to joining in this expression of justice. We ask you to circulate this announcement among your contacts and encourage friends and family to participate in calling for an end to violence against immigrants and for the passage of just and comprehensive immigration reform.
The Mass will begin with a procession that starts in front of Sacred Heart Church on South Oregon Street and proceed to the Placita de Leones, which is located at the intersection of Santa Fe Street and Calleros Street.