For nearly 10 years, Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, has led young people on a pilgrimage to the border, where they retrace the steps of migrants trying to cross the desert.

One of the group lights a candle for the migrants.

He calls it a pilgrimage, as together they reflect on the role faith plays in “welcoming the stranger.”

This week, Fr. Corey returned to the Arizona/Mexico border with a group that included graduates of Cristo Rey St. Martin and Saint Viator High School, as well as Preston Kendall, President of Cristo Rey St. Martin.

“I’m so proud to be here with these alums,” Fr. Corey said. “We’ve met real heroes in Arizona that advocate for asylum-seekers’ legal rights.”

Specifically, they met advocates at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project in Tucson, who provide free legal and social services to detained adults and children under threat of deportation. Its website states that on any given day, 5,000 people are detained at the border.

“Without the right to a public defender, both adults and children in immigration detention appear in court alone without an attorney,” its officials say. “They may be deported back to the unsafe situations they have fled. The Florence Project offers them a lifeline through free legal and social services and advocacy.”

The group sits in on a presentation from The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Project.

They also met volunteers at two shelters in Nogales, Mexico who offer a safe haven for asylum-seeking families while they sometimes wait months for an interview to enter the United States.

This immersion trip also included a tour across the border, where they literally traced the steps taken by migrants. Officials with the Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense, A.C. – FESAC gave the group its inspiring tour. This Mexican nonprofit organization is based in Sonora and focuses on community development and educational opportunities for families in the border region. 

While the trip aims to introduce young people to the many volunteers working at the border, advocating and welcoming asylum seekers, it also educates them about the immigration system in this country.

The group visits a chapel at the border.

Associate Jason Wilhite, who has traveled to the border with Fr. Corey several times, including in 2020, put it this way: “Some broken parts of the system definitely left us feeling powerless, but we were encouraged by grassroots efforts to restore human dignity to our sisters and brothers in the immigrant community.”