This past Saturday evening, April 18, Annunciation House held its twelfth annual Voice of the Voiceless Solidarity Dinner to bring attention to issues surrounding immigration and social justice. Padre Alejandro Solalinde, Mexican Catholic priest and founder of the migrant shelter Hermanos en el Camino in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, was to be present to receive year’s Voice of the Voiceless award. However, two days before the event, Annunciation House learned that urgent events at Padre Solalinde’s shelter would not allow him to travel to El Paso to celebrate with us.
Padre Solalinde had set out from Ixtepec earlier in the week with a group of over 200 Central American migrants. The migrants were on their way to Mexico City walking a Viacrucis, a Way of the Cross, to call attention to the crushing effects of Mexico’s Plan Frontera Sur on migrants traversing Mexico. The group was surrounded, stopped, and threatened by Federal Police and members of INAMI, Mexico’s immigration forces. For several days it was unclear what would happen to them, and Padre Solalinde felt he could not leave his companions in the middle of this crisis. And so, demonstrating once again the conviction for which he was named una Voz de los Sin Voz, he remained in Mexico to see this action through. After interventions from some government officials, the migrants began their Viacrucis de nuevo on Friday, and arrived at the Basilica de Guadalupe on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, in El Paso, Annunciation House made arrangements to honor Padre Solalinde’s work in his absence. The solidarity dinner proceeded as planned, and videos of Padre Solalinde and Hermanos en el Camino were shown to bring his works to life. Awards were also given to Las Patronas, a group that for twenty years has been providing food to Central American migrants riding the trains through southern Mexico; and to El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who has been a rare voice pro-immigrant voice in the U.S. House of Representatives of late, calling for reason and compassion in our response to the waves of migrants arriving on our Southern border.
The theme of the evening was THE RIGHT TO MIGRATE: SET MY PEOPLE FREE. Monarch butterflies, beautiful and fragile symbols of migration, decorated the tables and featured prominently in the opening ritual. Some 650 people attended the sold-out dinner. Annunciation House is grateful to the community for its steadfast support. We hope you will join us next year.