Highway Reflections

Loving our Immigrant Neighbours

This sign, shrouded by the Franklin Mountains, greets thousands of hopeful and battered individuals coming to the El Paso sector of the southern border each year. It has seen the devastating impact of countries that fail to care for their people. In fact, these individuals consider the long, arduous journey to the southern border a better option than remaining in their homelands.

In 2022, U.S. border patrol reported over 2 million encounters at the southern border- around 1 million more encounters than reported in fiscal year 2021. Specifically, migration from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua accounts for such a sharp increase in border encounters due to food and medicine shortages, oppressive governments, and violence. While this sign serves as a beacon of hope for escape from such oppression, it also presents a new type of difficulty for weary travelers.

Though the Refugee Act of 1980 promised to protect an individual’s right to seek asylum in the United States, the past decade presented policies inhibiting this right and sending individuals directly back into violence and persecution. Migrant Protection Protocols, implemented by the Trump administration, sent 70,000 asylum seekers to Mexico to wait while their cases were adjudicated in U.S. immigration courts. In an effort to crack down on the high number of individuals arriving at the southern border, President Biden proposed a rule further inhibiting one’s right to seek asylum if they entered between ports of entry without first applying for protections in another country. Not only does the rule separate families, but sends asylum seekers directly back into danger.

Though this sign may have provided hope for asylum seekers at the southern border, it now produces confusion for weary travelers. What happened to the nation that rallied around the Refugee Act of 1980? May we pray for those who have encountered exploitation at the southern border. May we pray for healing in their homelands and to the American immigration system. May we remember our God calls us to love and not oppress our immigrant neighbors (Leviticus 19:33- 34).


Hunter West
Advocacy Coordinator, World Relief Durham