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Rome Reports

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Sister serving migrants on U.S.-Mexico border, “We're restoring human dignity”

With threats still looming about the potential wall U.S. President Donald Trump will build on the Mexican border, this sister explains what she does on the border to help those immigrants who are already in America feel more at home and welcomed as they go through the process of becoming citizens.

As the executive director of Catholic Charities in Rio Grande Valley, Texas, for the past 10 years, Sister Norma Pimentel has also been advocating for migrants' rights during these years.

SR. NORMA PIMENTEL
Executive Director, Catholic Charities (Texas)

“The work we do right at the border in Texas to Mexico, we see so many immigrants come to our border and they get apprehended by border control and they get processed. In the meantime, we welcome them to our center and we tell them, 'You can take a shower.' We welcome them with a smile and we tell them that we care about them.”

Pope Francis is one leader who speaks about welcoming refugees often from a political and religious point of view and also leads with example. 

He also personally has thanked her for the work that she and the other sisters do to create an atmosphere of “welcome.” She believes the biggest disadvantage world leaders who make migration laws have is that they have never personally met a refugee. 

SR. NORMA PIMENTEL
Executive Director, Catholic Charities (Texas)

“It's unfortunate that our leaders sometimes don't have this encounter with the immigrants, so they can better do laws that are more humane and that respond more to the human reality that we're seeing. If they had the opportunity to meet and know that person from Honduras or from El Salvador and see why they had to flee their country and try to understand their journey.”

She asserts that their goal is to share love with them and restore the sense of human dignity in these migrants who have many times experienced tragic situations.  

SR. NORMA PIMENTEL
Executive Director, Catholic Charities (Texas)

“We're restoring human dignity. That's what we're doing, you know? These people have been through so much and so now we have a chance to show them that they are human beings. We welcome those that are already in our country. We don't try to bring them to our country; they are already there and we try to respond to their needs because they are there."

She says many immigrants are scared with the threats of the wall, but she believes it will not block immigrants nor traffickers who enter the states, but instead encourage them to find alternative routes. 

As for herself, she says she will continue caring for all persons, migrants and non-migrants, following the example of Pope Francis.