Brownsville, Texas (CNA) — Reports of children with matted hair, inadequate sleep and no access to showers or clean clothes. A published photo of a father and his toddler daughter who drowned trying to reach the United States. Media reports in the last week painted a bleak picture of the unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border, worsened by overcrowding and underfunding.
Border bishops: ‘Migrants are persons like us’ (July 1, CNS)
Nun tries to warn Central Americans: Travel through Mexico is dangerous (July 2, CNS/Angelus News)
Migrant shelters suffer harassment as Mexico toughens enforcement (July 2, CNS/National Catholic Reporter)
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for migrants July 8 (June 26, Rome Reports)
The crisis spurred New Wave Feminists, a secular pro-life group, to take action in collaboration with And Then There Were None (ATTWN), a support group for former abortion clinic workers.
In just three days, New Wave Feminists has collected more than $16,900 in monetary donations, while ATTWN has collected more than $12,800 worth of donated goods through a wish list registry on Amazon — so many toiletries, diapers, and other basic items that the group is renting a U-Haul truck to deliver their donations.
“The thing we keep hearing is, ‘Oh, pro-lifers don’t care about life outside the womb. Where are they at the border?’” Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, told CNA.
The sentiment is inaccurate, she said, citing a border donation drive by New Wave Feminists last year, to which pro-life people from various groups throughout the country donated.
This year, they are listing those groups as sponsors. More than 40 different pro-life groups have supported the border drive already this week. So many groups joined so quickly that Herndon-De La Rosa had to redesign a flyer that listed the sponsors. Some of those sponsors include Loyola Catholic, Libertarian Light, FemCatholic, Latinos for Life, and Mercy Missions, among many others.
“It’s been amazing to see how many other groups are getting involved and how those donations have multiplied because it isn’t just one pro-life group, it’s truly the pro-life movement that is getting behind this effort,” she said.
The success of the campaign and the broad list of sponsors from throughout the pro-life movement makes the pro-life message all the more authentic, Herndon-De La Rosa said, because it shows that the pro-life issue does not belong to one political party or religion, and that it cares about all human life.
“It’s not a political issue, it’s a people issue. And so if we care about the human dignity of the child in the womb, then we also care about the human dignity of the migrant. We care about the human dignity of all people, and that’s because we subscribe to the consistent life ethic,” she said.
One of the focuses of the New Wave Feminist group are the systemic issues that make people believe abortion is their only option, Herndon-De La Rosa noted, “and obviously poverty and instability are some of those, and access to healthcare and basic living necessities.”
Abby Johnson, founder and CEO of ATTWN, said in a Facebook post about the campaign, “Let’s be a movement that reaches out to those who need our physical and emotional assistance…whether those people are walking into an abortion clinic, at the border, or are homeless.”
On Thursday, a group of attorneys who interviewed migrant children about the detention center conditions asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order that the centers be inspected immediately and that the conditions be improved, the Washington Post reported. Late Thursday, the House passed a Senate-approved emergency relief bill that would give $4.6 billion in aid for the humanitarian crisis on the border. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump.
One of the biggest needs on the border is legal aid to help children reunite with their families, Herndon-De La Rosa said. That is why part of the donations from the drive will go to Immigrant Families Together, a legal group dedicated to reuniting families.
One of the challenges for pro-life people who want to help with the border crisis, Herndon-De La Rosa added, is that some of the larger corporations doing good work at the border also have ties to abortion funding. The groups that New Wave Feminists chose for their donations, including the legal group as well as two humanitarian respite centers, were vetted accordingly. One of the chosen respite centers – which is where families are reunited after detainment – is run by Sr. Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
“We should be able to stand with the vulnerable wherever they are,” Herndon-De La Rosa said, “and that extends beyond the womb.”
New Wave Feminists is collecting donations, 100% of which will be used for border aid, through July 13 on their website.
— By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency.