Transcript

Amna Nawaz: For the past 40 years, Ruben Garcia has served as the director of the Annunciation House, an organization that works with people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to help people immigrate or determine their next steps after deportation.

Tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on how embracing refugees builds stronger societies.

Ruben Garcia, Director, Annunciation House: I believe that many of us in the United States tend to look at the refugee, the immigrant as someone who is simply a matter of charity.

So many of our industries are interwoven with the immigrant and the refugee. When we protect the refugee, the immigrant, we are protecting ourselves.

I was fortunate to have been born here in El Paso, a border city, a border community. My family lived on both sides of the border. I had family that lived in Juarez, Mexico, as well as here in El Paso. I grew up going back and forth. It was a daily event that was as normal as crossing the street in any neighborhood in the United States.

Annunciation House is an organization that operates houses of hospitality for refugees and immigrants right on the border in El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico.

We have been doing this now for almost 44 years. The vast majority of those that come to our houses are individuals that have been processed by Border Patrol or ICE, and then are released on their own recognizance.

Some of the policies that were implemented during the Trump administration were, I would use the word, they were inhuman. The worst among multiple policies was the zero tolerance policy, whereby the children of parents were separated from parents, so that the parent could then be prosecuted criminally.

There’s over 1,000 children that have not been reunited with parents. Annunciation House was one of four locations that was selected to receive the reunified families and to see the dynamic of people coming back together again.

And let me tell you, it isn’t all just hugs and tears. There’s also anger, anger on the part of children who look at the parent and basically accuse the parent of abandoning them. Why did you leave me? Why didn’t you come get me?

It’s an incredibly profound experience to see that reunification. I have always believed that all of us have a responsibility to each other, and I also believe that the vast majority of us find some way to live that.

When Annunciation House came into existence, that simply continued to affirm that commitment to the other.

My name is Ruben Garcia, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take of refugees on the border.

Amna Nawaz: And you can watch all our Brief But Spectacular episodes at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.