May 16, 2008

Deportees Get Help From Border Ministry

By Luis Garcia Jr.

Getting deported is something regular American citizens don’t have to worry about on a daily basis. Many might forget that the struggle of a deportee doesn’t end once he or she is out of the U.S. With hardly any money, food, or clothes the real struggle starts once the deported immigrant is back in Mexico. It can be especially hard when immigrants are left in a city or town they have never been in before, in a place where they have no connections with anybody and with no way to get back home.

The Border Ministry was created two years ago by the Joint Commission and the Methodist churches on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border to help immigrants that find themselves back in Mexico.

The Ministry provides the deportees with food, helping them find shelter, and giving them a chance to get back to their home towns. One way the Border Ministry helps the deportees is to provide them with a “Hope Pack” which consists of a backpack with food, toiletries, and a bible. The Border Ministry also pays for a bus ticket so the deportee can get back to his or her home town.

Superintendent Martin Molina (right) and Felipe Ruiz (left) with “Hope Packs.”

The Border Ministry has three small offices in Tijuana, Mexicali, and San Luis Colorado. The Ministry is planning to provide immigrants with job training opportunities and other types of assistance. Rev. Wes Neal, President of the Joint Commission, says, “Church leaders perceived that the need among migrants was often for guidance, rather than just material assistance.”

The Border Ministry hopes that these programs can have a positive impact with the deportees by helping them in a way that will affect their futures permanently, not just temporarily. “My vision for the Border Ministry is of a community of faith, mobilized across the border to minister with compassion to our neighbors who are stranded on the border,” says Rev. Neal. “American churches need to grow in compassion for the migrant, and in a biblical understanding of the scriptural mandate to show hospitality to the stranger.”

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