By Emily Drooby
Every day, Sister Norma Pimentel fights the surging humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Now, she’s in New York recruiting a new generation to help bring justice to migrants.
Speaking at the Catholic Manhattan College in the Bronx, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley shared with students her first-hand experiences at the border, including the plight of a woman denied asylum.
“She said, ‘What am I going to do? I can’t go back because my husband was killed, and I know if I go back I know my daughter and I will be killed, and I’m afraid,’” Sr. Norma recalled.
“People are there in the thousands,” she said.
Several students say they were inspired to come hear Sister Norma speak because of the time they spent at the border — a time they’ll never forget.
“Having to cut the women out of their jeans because they had the ankle monitors on was really hard,” said student Anna Rosario. “They were treated like animals.”
Anna has spent time in both El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, and was motivated to get involved because it could have been her.
“I’m from Latin America, and I can imagine that if my story was different, I would have been one of these migrants. So, I can see myself in them,” she explained.
Ireland Twiggs was also in Brownsville, and recalled the emotional toll it took to cross back into the U.S. from Mexico.
“It was like 500 feet from this concept of freedom, I think it was really hard for me to understand how we could keep going those 500 feet, and these people could not,” she said.
Sister Norma met with both Anna and Ireland. Their passion is the reason she travels the country: to raise awareness for an issue she says doesn’t get enough attention.
“The only thing different today is that it has been kind of swept under the carpet,” said Sr. Norma, “and pretend the problem is not here anymore because it was moved south of the border.”