Crossing Over: Enrique Morales, Founder of Border Angels Talks the on Border Crisis and How We Can Stop It
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Enrique Morones is on a mission.
In fact, at the time of our interview, the founder and executive director of Border Angels was on his way to the mountains of San Diego County, where he and his organization regularly supply food and water to the many undocumented immigrants who pass through that region after crossing the United States-Mexico border.
Without those provisions, the trek can be deadly. And for Morones, it's not worth their lives. Over 10,000 immigrants have died attempting to immigrate from Mexico to the US since the United States built the first part of its fence between San Diego and Tijuana in 1994.
The group he's traveling with, a non-profit known as Border Angels, was founded by Morones in the 1980s as a faith-based organization. They began by placing water in the San Diego desert along known immigration routes.
Since those early days, the group has expanded well past the water drop-offs, and now do much, much more. One of their biggest tasks, though, is raising awareness about the humanitarian aspects of immigration and the many dangers immigrants face as they cross the border.
With a political climate like the one the nation currently faces, they've had to be innovative with their approach. In one such event, Border Angels organized a caravan beginning at Friendship Park -- a park along the United States-Mexico border in San Diego-Tijuana -- and ending in Washington D.C.
Like most of the nation, Morones and Border Angels have been paying close attention to the events currently unfolding in Murrieta, California. They've kept a close eye on the controversy surrounding the busing in of undocumented Central American immigrants, and they've decided to do something about it.
On the nation's Independence Day, Morones was on hand to witness anti-immigration protesters, gathered at Murrieta's Border Patrol facility, actually turn away a bus attempting to drop off immigrants from Central America by physically blocking the entrance to the facility.
What's more, members of the Murrieta Police were the ones who initially blocked the bus' entry path, and according to Morones, that's when about 25 of the protesters waiting for the bus then surrounded it and started banging their flags against the bus and yelling at the immigrants inside.
Morones called the display "the worst of American spirit," and added that "most of the country isn't like that."
Even with his feelings on Murrieta, Morones still felt it was an opportunity to open the American public's eyes to the realities of immigration.
Morones called on President Obama to provide a "humanitarian response to the humanitarian crisis" facing undocumented immigrants today, even if it means utilizing executive powers to circumvent Congress.
Among the specific actions Morones would like the President to take, he would like to see mass deportations of immigrants halted, the enhancement of DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) and passage of the Dream Act.
Referring to the immigration reform bill currently being proposed in Congress, Morones has this to say on the subject.
"It is not humane, as it would double the size of the Border Patrol and double the size of the wall," he says.
Those two actions Morones believes would kill another 200 people a year on top of the 600 who are already dying.
And contrary to what critics may believe, Enrique Morones and Border Angels are not asking for citizenship for every undocumented immigrant. Rather, they are seeking an official process by which immigrants can become documented. They are aiming for immigrants to be legally be recognized, so that they can safely enter this country to find work, or perhaps be with their families who are already here.
"There is no line," Monones says, regarding the current status quo for undocumented immigrants seeking entry into the United States, "I would like to see a line be created."
Morones states that because immigrants are required to state their income in order to obtain a visa in the United States, many immigrants from Central and South America are automatically disqualified because they simply don't have any income to declare.
And that's what he would like to see change.
"We want a humane bill that allows the people to get in line, that has the possibility to let [undocumented immigrants] be documented," he says.
Ultimately, Morones feels that many Americans are simply unwilling to acknowledged the changing cultural and ethnic demographic make-up of the United States.
"They don't want to know what's happening," he says. "I think a lot of people have turned a blind eye."
Hopefully, for Morones and Border Angels, all of that is going to change, and soon. In fact, Border Angels is currently attempting to fund their latest documentary in order to help spread awareness regarding the plight of undocumented immigrants.
The documentary, aptly titled The Dream Without Visa, follows immigrants as they attempt their harrowing journey from Central America, through Mexico and finally to America.
Morones says these movies are the key to helping Americans -- and everyone else -- understand the truth about what undocumented immigrants seeking entry into this county are facing.
"We gotta remember that before we were us, we were them," Morones says referring to the US population. "We were that latest wave of immigrants coming in."
That reality seems to have been lost on most of the anti-immigration crowd, according to Morones, and part of his mission with Border Angels is to remind people of that and hopefully change their perception of immigrants.
"You came from another part of the world, or your great grandparents [did]. Well let's continue to have that opportunity for others that want to come to have a better life."
For more information about Border Angels or if you would like to support their cause, you can visit borderangels.org.
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