Sister Paula Rose Jauernig, SCL (left), and Sister Andrea Koverman, Sister of Charity of Cincinnati (right), shared their experiences working with migrants at the U.S./Mexico border during a presentation Monday, Oct. 21 at the SCL Mother House.

Sister Paula Rose spoke about her volunteer service at Casa de los Refugiados, a hospitality site of Annunciation House, El Paso. Sister Andrea lives at the formation/affiliate house of the Cincinnati community in Anthony, N.M.; she ministers across the border in Anapra, Mexico. The two Sisters met while Sister Paula Rose was in El Paso. (Sister Andrea was in Leavenworth recently for a meeting and joined Sister Paula Rose for the presentation.)

In their remarks, the Sisters shared that due to changes in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) practices, significantly fewer refugee families are coming through the hospitality sites. This has created other challenges.

Sister Andrea said there is a build-up of people awaiting their asylum processes in Juarez, Mexico, across the border, and that the city does not have the capacity to serve the refugees. This, in turn, has spawned a criminal element taking advantage of the migrants for trafficking. Sister Andrea described the refugees as being stuck: they can’t return to where they came from [due to fear], and they can’t go forward.

Sister Paula Rose explained the highly organized process of intake and care provided for those who are released by ICE and Border Patrol to the hospitality sites. Her volunteer roles ranged from stocking items in the hygiene room; sorting clothing and other items; and accompanying people to the airports for flights to connect with their host families. Sister was in El Paso in May and August. 

Click this link for an update from Annunciation House that explains the decrease in numbers of refugees.

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