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Report on Border Violence from a Mercy Ministry

August 22, 2011

By Terri B.

As we end our 15th year of serving the very poor, we are excited to give you the overall status of Sky Cross ministry, and not so excited to share with you our opinion on the conditions in Mexico, specifically in the Texas-Mexico border area. 

Operationally, we have again been able to serve some 30,000 very poor this past year and there has been no slowdown by our missionaries in food delivery and in ongoing children education programs. We have not expanded for the past 18 months (i.e. added additional locations), but there is always expansion available in current locations.

The numbers of very poor migrating to the border areas is always increasing because the border is where they hear there may be jobs (the vast majority of the factories, called maquiladoras, are there). This is true: there are jobs in these factories, but the number of poor competing for them is, well, just staggering. Consequently, the migration of the poor looking for work to survive continues northward into the United States.

We don’t make it easy for them because of our border security concerns. We sure make it easy for the bad guys because of the huge number of illegal drugs Americans purchase. What we observe and hear is people and drugs going north into the United States, and money and guns going south into Mexico. Of course, you can just imagine how this affects people of poverty caught in the middle of this flow. There is a huge risk to stay and try to find work; there is a huge risk crossing into the United States looking for work.

One result of the current environment in Mexico is that many church groups have stopped ministering in Mexico because of the drug violence threat.

Many of the border cities in Mexico, once thriving with small businesses and large numbers of tourists, are just a shell of their former state. Result: jobs gone. There is a Mexican upper-class exodus to the United States because of the fear of extortion and kidnapping at home. This can’t be good for jobs in Mexico. Overall, Mexico as a country is hurting right now. They can’t or won’t take necessary care of their poor (that is historically true even in good times); they have a small civil war going on continuously; they have large-scale corruption in their government and security forces; and, they also have large-scale racism problems.

Yet, as a country, Mexico is very important economically to the United States. Mexico is our third largest trading partner, after Canada and China. Our demand for consumer goods fuels Mexico’s manufacturing industry: six out of the 10 U.S. ports where trade goods move between the two countries are in Texas (El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo, Hidalgo, Brownsville and Houston). The two countries share a common dominant religion, Christianity.

It is Christianity that has historically bonded the United States with Mexico. The two governments may have taken the secular road, but the vast majority of citizens have not. For the very poor in Mexico, their Christian faith sustains them. They live their faith every day and depend on God. The Good Lord placed Sky Cross, and many others, into their lives in answer to their prayers. It is our privilege to serve them in answer to God’s call, with gratitude to the Sky Cross family for sustaining this ministry.

Sky Cross is a collaborative ministry of the South Central Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. One of the problems linked to the conditions in Mexico described here is the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico. You may send a message to President Obama to encourage him to address gun smuggling over the border.

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