USD alum acts as angel of the border

By Leeza Earl

More than 10,000 immigrants have died trying to cross the Mexican border any way they know how. USD alumnus Enrique Morones is committed to saving thousands of undocumented immigrants traveling through the deserts to reach America through his non-profit organization Border Angels. Morones and many volunteers are determined to save immigrants by leaving water to prevent the deaths of travelers due to the intense weather conditions.

Morones expressed his purpose at Border Angels and what he is doing to help.

“There are over 700 unidentified individuals that have died trying to cross through the desert,” Morones said. “The water we leave helps someone in need and will reduce the number of unidentified.”

Morones founded Border Angels in 1986. Members of this organization work together to stop the unnecessary deaths of individuals traveling through the Imperial Valley desert and mountain areas surrounding the San Diego County located around the US and Mexican border.

According to the Border Angels mission statement, the high percentage of unnecessary deaths have been results of extreme heat which can reach up to 127 degrees in the summer, in addition to some racial-discrimination crimes.

Senior and international relations major Dylan Heyden expressed his thoughts on the organization efforts.

“I personally feel that Border Angels is a necessary organization even though a lot of people tend to argue that their efforts assist illegal immigrants [in getting] to the US,” Heyden said. “Their efforts are simply recognitions of the humanity of these people that are often searching for a better life.”

Border Angels mainly focuses on the Mexico border, but they are also concerned with individuals traveling to other countries for a better life. They have several documentaries to inform the public of what is happening on these borders.

The documentary The Dream without Visa is expected to be released in six months following many more from diverse issues. The film tells the stories of the mental and spiritual journey immigrants endure throughout their journey towards the American Dream, and it highlights the stories immigrants from South America into Central America, Mexico and into the US.

“These documentaries are to show the world that these are individuals who want better for themselves and their families,” Morones said. “They are not illegal immigrants; they are human beings that want something better.”

Border Angels hosts many events to support the individuals who wish to cross the borders. In one of the most famous events, grade school students from Mexico and the US sing songs to each other from the border gates.

They also hold several events in the San Diego community in Chicano Park, as well as Children’s Day Celebration at Friendship Park and here at USD.

One event Morones is most proud of is the meeting of the first ladies of Tijuana and the US which allows conversation between the countries to begin continue.
In a more general sense, Morales is looking to educate the public about immigration issues.

“We really are focusing on the terms used like illegal immigrants and aliens which are not correct because no human being is illegal,” Morones said. “We want to correct these terms and give the proper ones, even though these are said most of the time not intending to cause pain.”

According to Morones, the Border Angels do not encourage individuals to migrate to other countries; they just want to prevent as many deaths in the case some people do decide to leave. There are now 20 volunteer groups who assist with placing water, food and even blankets in the winter in the deserts.

Morones said that he wants these individuals to know there is someone who cares. He referred to a biblical verse as the foundation for the organization and his motivation. He cites Matthew 25:35, which states, “When I was hungry, who gave me something to eat? – when I was thirsty, who gave me drink?”