By MISAEL VIRGEN
EL NUEVO SOL
Since 1994, 10,000 people have died trying to cross the border between the United States and Mexico, according to Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels.
Founded in 1986, Border Angels is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to undocumented immigrants. They initially started helping the undocumented community by bringing food and water to immigrants who were living in the canyons of North County San Diego.
Among those who have attempted the journey are men, women and children. It is common for migrants to pay an expensive price for smugglers to take them through the trek, nonetheless, due to harsh weather conditions and tough terrain, many lose their lives in the attempt to make it across.
Morones said that there are two main reasons why people migrate to the United States – to look for better economic opportunity and for family reunification.
Their operation expanded when Morones and the volunteers started going out to the desert to place water near the recently constructed wall dividing the United States and Mexico, also known as Operation Gatekeeper. “Before Operation Gatekeeper, one or two people died every month,” said Morones. “After Operation Gatekeeper, one or two people die every day.”
The organization is a faith based group whose mission reads, “When I was hungry, who gave me to eat? When I was thirsty, who gave me to drink?” – Matthew 25:35. “After all, we are all of the same race, the human race,” said Morones. “It is important that we treat each other with dignity and respect.”
Border Angels is also known for attending a cemetery in Holtville, Calif. to pray and place crosses that read “no olvidados” (not forgotten) on the graves of the 700 unidentified migrants that have been laid to rest there.
Since 2006, Morones and the volunteers have taken to the streets once a year in a caravan across the country to inform people about border realities and the necessary steps needed to have humane immigration. The organization continues to educate citizens and government dignitaries on the status of weather related deaths and racial discrimination.
“This is happening everyday… and that’s why it’s important that we all help make a difference, because the person that’s going to make a difference is the person that we look at in the mirror everyday,” said Morones.