Man speaking to kids through the border wall
Photo Courtesy of The Encuentro Project /

BC Faculty Discuss Resources for Asylum-Seekers After Border Trip

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College (CHRIJ) hosted a response-discussion panel about their trip to the U.S.-Mexico Border on Thursday afternoon.

The event's presenters, Timothy Karcz, M. Brinton Lykes, and Raquel Muñiz, visited El Paso, Texas, with the Encuentro Project in May. The Encuentro Project is run by the Sacred Heart Parish located in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, described as a “culture of encounter to address the fear and indifference that marginalizes migrants and refugees.”

CHRIJ at BC aims to use education and ethics in the attainment of human rights and international justice. With the constant spotlight on the border in the news, they thought it was important to share their experiences, create an opportunity for discussion, and then respond. 

Karcz, the assistant director of the Center, clarified that what is occurring at the border is not an “invasion, but a modest flow of people coming to our border looking for protection.” 

There are three points along the border where migrants are encouraged to seek protection, or asylum, but recently the U.S. government has made that difficult.

There has been a 1,243 percent increase in family unit apprehensions, rising from about 10,000 in the fiscal year 2018 to about 130,000 in 2019. They stressed the substantial jump, and related it to the rise in border patrol officers.

Muñiz, an assistant professor in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, discussed the Customs and Border Protection policy of metering, which has come under scrutinyrecently after the photo of a migrant father and his daughter lying dead at the edge of the Rio Grande was spread through the media in June.

Metering is when migrants who are seeking asylum are getting turned back at the border because only a certain amount of people can seek asylum each day. As these people are being processed, they are placed in detention centers, resulting in overcrowding.

Professor Lykes, co-director of CHRIJ and a professor in the Lynch School, stressed the importance of how these border policies influence daily life.

“Most of these resources are short term,” Lykes said, describing the aid groups that exist on the border. She posed the question, “How do we think about the longer-term issues that need to be addressed to bring truth and justice into our midst?”

Lykes then called for a breakout session, splitting the room into smaller discussion groups.

Each group was given a topic: unauthorized or independent youth migrants, local police and ICE in Boston and Massachusetts, and Public Charge rule changes. The groups were asked to discuss how to make the short term fixes that exist into long term solutions.

The responses were all along the lines of more education, trained bilingual professionals, safe spaces for migrants to go, and badgering legislators to enact social change. The group consensus was, with this educated community at Boston College still unsure of the actual policy status going on at the border, that we must educate the general public.

CHRIJ will host several more events discussing current events related to the border through the semester.