Enough is Enough: Sr. Norma Pimentel Speaks on the US-Mexico Border

Image Courtesy of TIME

By Katherine Plunkett 

On Thursday, November 17, CUA on Tap hosted Sister Norma Pimentel to discuss her work at the U.S. – Mexico border. Titled “Enough is Enough,” Sr. Norma’s talk centered around the people she encounters and what needs to be done. The event was hosted by Campus Ministry, and a dinner of beans and rice was served to promote understanding of the situation. 

Sr. Norma is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which focuses on humanitarian work at the border. She was named one of TIME Magazine‘s “100 Most Influential People of 2020” for her work. Providing food, shelter, and sanctuary for those who need it, she has assisted over 100,000 immigrants and refugees. 

Taking place just after the conclusion of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, Sr. Norma opened her talk by stating “there are people who are invisible to us.” In an introduction to the work she does, she stated how her role was helping people toward their final destination. The people currently in the U.S. are people who can’t be sent back and qualify for asylum, she explained.

“Our focus is simply restoring their dignity,” she said, discussing how she and her organization offer people a shower and a place to eat and sleep after walking for days. These are people running from wars and other forms of suffering, and Sr. Norma stated that they are here already, so it is our job to take care of them. We have to make room for each other, she said. 

“We must not limit the grace of God,” Sr. Norma stated. “We must not be afraid that there is not enough.” 

Sr. Norma also discussed her involvement in the policy side of the situation at the border, commenting on how the narrative is distorted in the news to lead people to believe that there are people invading and that it is out of control. In her experience of working there for years, she stated that the situation has never been out of control, and that instead political campaigns rely on the idea of a crisis to enact their policies. Sr. Norma expressed that by doing so, through bussing people to other cities and other methods, officials are using people for a scheme, which is unfair to them. 

In addition, she discussed Title 42, which shut the border down due to the pandemic, how applying for a work permit can jeopardize an immigrant’s asylum status, and her personal experiences connecting with people. 

How can the situation be improved? Sr. Norma stated that there is a need for policies and pathways for these families to understand what they need to know to enter safely. 

“You matter and what you do matters – to be courageous and to question and challenge the destructive ideas and practices of false expressions of Christian faith,” Sr. Norma concluded her talk. “We need humility and true love to defeat the growing hatred and indifference in our culture today.” 

Junior psychology major and resident minister Kendall Mullen, who worked on the event, gave her comments afterward. 

“We really wanted someone to come and speak on the immigrant and refugee issue, and she seemed like the perfect person to do it, she has so much experience and she is so inspiring,” Mullen said. “Everything she speaks on is so important and real.”

Sr. Norma’s story was inspiring, informative, and raised awareness for a very important issue. The main takeaway – the only mission we have in life is to love. 

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