'On the Border' class takes students to center of immigration debate

By Elaine Justice | Spirited Thinking | March 28, 2014

Students from Candler School of Theology's "Church on the Border" course spent time walking the border between southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

Students from Candler School of Theology's "Church on the Border" course spent time walking the border between southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

Graffiti on the U.S.-Mexico border wall serves as a makeshift memorial to those who died in the crossing.

Graffiti on the U.S.-Mexico border wall serves as a makeshift memorial to those who died in the crossing. 

"Most people know this, but they forget that immigrants are humans first. They are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. They have hopes and dreams," says Jessica Turner, a first-year M.Div. student.

"Most people know this, but they forget that immigrants are humans first. They are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. They have hopes and dreams," says Jessica Turner, a first-year M.Div. student.

"It was powerful to realize that after walking so far through the desert, they died so close to civilization," says first-year M.Div. student Jessica Turner.
"It was powerful to realize that after walking so far through the desert, they died so close to civilization," says first-year M.Div. student Jessica Turner.
"It is one thing to read about the desert or see pictures but actually walking through the terrain is another experience," says first-year M.Div. student Jessica Turner. "The desert has sloping, rocky hills, with many plants that can harm a walker."

"It is one thing to read about the desert or see pictures but actually walking through the terrain is another experience," says first-year M.Div. student Jessica Turner. "The desert has sloping, rocky hills, with many plants that can harm a walker."

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All photos by Trey Comstock.

Students in David Jenkins' and Marie Marquardt's course, "The Church on the Border," at Candler School of Theology gained first-hand experience with the people and places at the center of the U.S. immigration debate during a recent travel seminar led by the two professors to southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico.
 
The group spent time talking with founders of the Sanctuary Movement, local residents working with the Samaritans, a judge who presides over Operation Streamline trials, Mexican artists designing public art for the wall, migrants recently deported or in detention, college students developing resources for DREAMERS, as well as lawyers and local activists on both sides of the border. One of the highlights of the trip was home stays in Nogales, Mexico. 

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