As 2nd-generation Latina, area young adult visits Mexican border
By David Karas | Correspondent
For Kimberly Macario, the issue of immigration is personal – now more than ever.
A second-generation Latina, Macario had long heard about immigration and experiences at the U.S.-Mexico border from her parents after their journey to America. But due to a recent pilgrimage, she now has a much deeper sense about the topic and a greater appreciation for risks that many take along the border on a daily basis.
“I have been around the topic for many years,” she said, “but being at the border and meeting refugees was a whole different encounter.”
Macario, a 22-year-old health science major and rising senior in Stockton University, Galloway, participated in a Share the Journey pilgrimage trip along with others from the Newman Club, the Catholic campus ministry program. She said she participated because she wanted to meet and help refugees.
The experience, said the member of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, was unforgettable.
“I got to meet amazing people and experience a different type of culture while being in Texas,” she said.
The pilgrimage included time spent volunteering at the Humanitarian Respite Center managed by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley – where the pilgrims helped to welcome families taken by border patrol and customs officials and sent to get much-needed food and nourishment, a shower and fresh clothes.
While she was glad to be fluent in Spanish and to be able to communicate with those she met, Macario reflected on a bothersome experience at the center.
“A very difficult moment for me was serving food at the respite center to the children who have not eaten anything in hours or even days,” she said. “It impacted me so much to know these innocent kids were going through so much in their lives without fully knowing it yet.”
According to media reports from 2016, construction on the center began late that year in response to the influx of immigrants detained by law enforcement officials, then released pending a court date. At the time ground was broken, a local parish there would see hundreds each day seeking assistance.
For Macario, it was difficult not to imagine what her own family members had gone through at the border.
“I thought of my family and wondered what they were feeling and the struggles they encountered at the border,” she said. “There, I realized how grateful I am to have such wonderful parents who [sought] a better life and have become so successful in their lives by taking a life-changing risk.”
“I’ve always valued and appreciated my parents since I can remember,” she continued, “but this trip made me appreciate them in a new outlook because I can understand immigration more and understand they truly risked their lives. And not only my parents, but all immigrants in the U.S. – I truly admire their decisions and scarifies.”
Describing the border experience as powerful, she continued, “While I was there, I thought of the many lives that probably never made it past the border.”
In a recent interview, Macario noted the prominent role that faith plays in her life, and how she believes she was meant to go on this pilgrimage and meet refugees.
“I knew that God put this trip in my path to encounter new experiences, outlooks and perspectives,” she said. “It also made me understand that we need to grow in our faith and spiritual life. Because with faith we can impact lives and make a change … after all, that is our mission.”[[In-content Ad]]