Jessica Lee is the program director for the DC Schools Project at the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service.
“As program director for the DC Schools Project, which serves members of the DC immigrant community, I am usually one of the staff leaders on the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) trip.
This year, we encountered various aspects of the immigration system, the various stakeholders and the complex narratives on both sides of the fence during our KBI experience.
Along with 10 students, we served migrants – the majority of whom were asylum seekers. Many had traveled as part of a caravan from Honduras to the KBI Aid Center for Migrants.
I went from struggling to witness the suffering to helplessness as we watched and made eye contact with people who were detained in the Florence Detention Center. I witnessed detention facility workers and ranchers speaking of people as if they were criminals or animals.
There is no other way to describe what we did, than that we learned the urgency of how we must localize what we witnessed at the border – organizing, educating and dismantling the systems and structures that perpetuate the dehumanization of incredibly vulnerable people.”