Looking Back

We’ve been home for a couple of days now, but I feel restless. I want to go back and continue working. Knowing there are migrants needing to be identified and families anxiously awaiting news on their loved ones while I sit on my couch and binge Netflix doesn’t seem right. While I’ve recovered physically, my emotions are still all over the place. It is hard to rationalize why society has gotten to a point where we treat and judge people based on nothing beyond the fact they were not born in the same place as us.

Team members taking measurements at the cemetery

This Beyond Borders trip was vastly different from the previous ones I have been on. There was a different emotional toll than that experienced when we search ranchland or fill water stations. Not to say that either of those activities is easy or enjoyable, but seeing the bodies of migrants tossed in hastily dug holes like trash, and oftentimes with actual trash, hits in a different way. It doesn’t take much to have even the smallest bit of compassion or human decency, yet these migrants are looked down upon and treated appallingly for the simple reason of being born in a different country or to circumstances beyond their control. It frustrates and saddens me and makes me question a lot of things.

Team members digging at the cemetery

It is easy to villainize one person or another for the crisis, but, unfortunately, there is no easy solution and there is no single person to blame for what is occurring. There are many differing opinions and political discourses surrounding immigration and the US/Mexico border, but that will not stop migrants from crossing, with some perishing along the way. Funeral homes and cemetery workers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants they end up in charge of. They are doing their best, but, at some point, they start to become desensitized to the atrocities they are seeing. This does not excuse what is happening to these migrants, but it is important to realize that this is a multi-faceted, complex problem with no simple solution.

Two team members removing dirt from a burial

As long as there are people such as Dr. Latham, Eddie, Don, Dr. Spradley and the Operation Identification team, and many other individuals and organizations who are taking the initiative and trying their best to give migrants and their families closure, I choose to believe that compassion and decency still exist. I wish we were never even needed down in Eagle Pass, but I am glad we were able to aid in the excavations and, hopefully, help provide some of the dignity and compassion these migrants, and all humans, are worthy of.

Working on this project with this team was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it. After my experiences with Beyond Borders, I am only more determined to use my education and abilities in humanitarian settings in order to help those who have been wronged in any way I can. I’m sad that this is most likely my last trip with Beyond Borders, but I’ve cherished every moment.

~ Olivia

Jan 2023 Team