Helping immigrants in Midwest, at border line discussed at Kino Border Initiative event

Photo by Isioma Okoro-Osademe /
Photo by Isioma Okoro-Osademe /[email protected]

Immigration issues were discussed last week at the Church of the Gesu during the Rev. Sean Carrol’s “Year of Mercy: Welcome the Stranger” presentation.

Carrol is the executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, a binational organization that promotes humane and just migration between the U.S. and Mexico border. He was invited to speak at Marquette by Gesu Church staff. Gesu Pastor the Rev. Jim Flaherty has worked with KBI in the past.

“It’s an important time to be engaging in this issue because I suspect a number of (students) are developing their views on (immigration),” Carroll said. “So if they have some experience with it or an opportunity to reflect on it, then I think that it could be very positive.”

Attendees asked what they could personally do to lessen the pain and struggle of migration, despite being so far away from the U.S. and Mexico border.

“I think certainly there are immigrants living here in Milwaukee, and so I think it’s an important issue here and in the rest of the United States as well,” Carroll said.

Maggie Stang, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said it is important to understand and listen to those personally affected by immigration.

“Putting a face to migration – that is extremely key and has helped me understand the issue more comprehensively,” Stang said. “So every time I talk about it or hear from people who are working with the issue, I learn a little bit more about what I can do personally.”

Jane Lorenzi, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she saw issues surrounding immigration first hand on the Haiti and Dominican Republic border. She said conversations about immigration are important.

“I really took away that we need to create spaces for dialogue,” Lorenzi said. “It is really important that we talk about the issue and come in honoring every person’s experience and acknowledging that we have all had different experiences with immigration.”

Carroll said it can be difficult to engage individuals about immigration issues. He said the best method to discuss immigration is to speak about a specific personal experience, rather than about an opinion or fact.

However, Carroll said if an individual does not have a personal experience with immigration, they can still engage others.

“Even if (students) don’t have that experience necessarily, perhaps they can cultivate a spirit of openness to reflect on the issues or to dialogue with people that have had more direct experience with migrants and perhaps that will encourage them to engage more concretely,” Carroll said.

Stang said there are multiple things she can personally do as a Marquette student to help those affected by immigration.

“I see my role as engaging in the conversation, talking to my peers or talking to people around me that might not understand it as well without that connection,” Stang said.