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“No More Death! No More Exploitation!”: Pope Francis Decries Suffering Of Immigrants During Border Visit

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Pope Francis ended his six-day tour of Mexico in a simple but powerful act of compassion, laying a bouquet of flowers at the feet of a large cross symbolizing the 6,000 immigrants who have died attempting to cross the US/Mexico border.

In front of the cross were several pairs of shoes once belonging to some of these immigrants. Just a few feet away on the US side of the Rio Grande, hundreds of US citizens and undocumented immigrants alike waved to the Pope for his blessing, which he gave.

The Pope’s act was a powerful contrast to the bigoted rhetoric from leading Republican candidates for President in the United States, who have promised to build a massive wall along the US/Mexico, round up and deport millions of families, and have accused immigrants of being criminals and “rapists.”

The Pope was unable to cross the US/Mexico border as he had once wished, but during his Mass immediately following the blessing decried the cruel injustices faced by immigrants and refugees who are forced to flee north to the United States because of war, drug violence, and extreme poverty:

Here in Ciudad Juárez, as in other border areas, there are thousands of immigrants from Central America and other countries, not forgetting the many Mexicans who also seek to pass over “to the other side”. Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted; so many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human beings.

We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometers through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones. The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today. This crisis, which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families. They are the brothers and sisters of those excluded as a result of poverty and violence, drug trafficking and criminal organizations. Being faced with so many legal vacuums, they get caught up in a web that ensnares and always destroys the poorest. Not only do they suffer poverty but they must also endure these forms of violence. Injustice is radicalized in the young; they are “cannon fodder”, persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs. Then there are the many women unjustly robbed of their lives.

Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts like the Ninevites, open to his call heard in the suffering faces of countless men and women. No more death! No more exploitation! There is still time to change, there is still a way out and a chance, time to implore the mercy of God.

“If only that message of decency, of human worth, could have been amplified, in English, to the United States, across the river to Texas, and beyond to Washington,” the New York Times Editorial Board wrote earlier today.

“It takes courage to live in Juárez, to face up to dangers there, or to leave it and cross north to new lives. It takes no courage at all to demonize immigrants from the safety of the United States, and to stoke fear, for the sake of votes and power.”