During our solidarity trip to Southern Mexico in November, seven participants from partner organizations joined us. The following is a reflection from participant Thomas Cartwright, an activist with Witness at the Border. A retired financial executive from Columbus, Ohio, Thomas Cartwright is now a global refugee advocate. He advocates for the rights of migrants in Congress, regularly visits border regions from the U.S.-Mexico border to Greece, and his work to monitor ICE removal flights has been instrumental in our work to defend Haitian migrants. Below, Thomas Cartwright reflects on his experience during the trip and its impact on his work.
The Quixote Center Solidarity Trip provided me a rich experience to listen to, learn from, and connect emotionally with those on their journey to find safety and security in a new country and galvanized my resolve to advocate even more ferociously for their human right to migrate.
I’ll offer just one simple example. I was in a meeting recently and The Venezuelan Parole program was being discussed and someone noted how successful it was because of the dramatic reduction in Venezuelans crossing without documentation between Ports.
All my mind could process was our time at La 72, and especially the charla we presented for the many Venezuelans there on the program. The raw fact was that most of them were stuck in the land of can’t-go-forward-can’t go back. Because of the stringent requirements of the Parole Program (the tiny carrot) most would face a Title 42 expulsion back to Mexico if they crossed (the massive stick). We experienced their epiphany in real time. We saw it in their faces, we heard it in their voices, and we felt the pain in our own hearts.
My, probably not very collegial, but accurate, retort to the comment that it was successful was that from what I saw in the faces of those at Tenosique, there was nothing that signaled success in any way to me of this program. Once you see the pain, it can’t be unseen, and as difficult as it is, it does make you intensify your fight. Thanks to the Quixote Center for the opportunity to walk in solidarity with an amazing group of people on our own journey to be in solidarity with those on their journey.