OPINION: Guest writer


Crisis not as governor described

I just read Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' guest column on the crisis at the border. I have also been to the border. I went for a week, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas ARISE program in McAllen, Texas, to learn about the immigration system and the situation at the border.

I, too, visited with Border Patrol. But I also worked at a respite center and talked with women who have escaped impossible circumstances. I went into Reynosa, Mexico, and saw the camps, saw refugee centers, and ate lunch with a woman who has helped immigrants for years.

I met with Refugee Services of Texas Support Center, which helps refugees with human trafficking. I learned about the system of immigrants paying "coyotes" huge amounts of money to get from one area to the next. I learned of rape and mistreatment on the way.

I met with the Southern Texas Civil Rights Project that follows legislation. I met with Pro-BAR , a group that helps with legal representation and services. I learned of stash houses. I have statistics on just about everything.

I invite Governor Sanders to experience the same week I did at the border. I can arrange it.

We were at different points of entries, so maybe all the drug smugglers were at her point of entry. The families I saw and met were not smugglers. I quote a friend, who has also experienced the Mercy immersion week. In the column there was not a single word of compassion. Nothing about the crushing poverty, violence and desperation. If my children were starving or threatened, there is nothing that I wouldn't do to save them, and that is much of what I saw when I was there among them.

The governor can blame President Joe Biden all she wants. But, in all fairness, she would also have to blame Presidents Trump, Obama, Bush 1 and 2, Clinton ... and Congress. It is a problem that has gone on for years and will continue until we have a government that will work together. Our system is broken. And until the politicians work together, this will not end.

Finally, I boarded the plane to come home and I sat next to a 12-year-old immigrant going to North Carolina to begin a new life. Thanks to translation apps, I learned her story. She and her brother were on the road for four months. I was afraid to ask too many questions for obvious reasons. As we landed in Atlanta, I saw tears streaming down her face. She tried to hide it. It was a memorable moment in both of our lives.

How lucky we are to be born on this side of the fence. And what did we have to do with that? Nothing. We are just lucky.

So, Governor Sanders, shame on you for such a ridiculous column. Please call and I will schedule you a week where you can talk to all sides and learn what is really happening.

And a big thank you to all our service people serving at the border and around the world.

Alice Worley Jones of Little Rock is a retired teacher/librarian and a Mercy Associate with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.