When a unique opportunity arose for us to send a delegation from South Bend down to the border we were proud to partner with the Monterrosa Law Group and the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP) to help families at the border.
With generous support from the community, we raised funds to send three law students, two attorneys, and a community advocate to help during the December holidays to give the team from DPBP a needed break.
The South Bend delegation consisted of attorneys Rudy Monterrosa, Cecilia Lopez, community advocate Jesusa Rivera and three ND Law students; Lauren Andrini, Rolando Rengifo, and Gino Ibanez. They sacrificed their holiday break to spend time helping at the border.
The group shared that while they were blessed to help, it was devastating to hear the stories, over and over, from mothers about why they had to take their children and leave their home country. The obstacles they faced, the challenges they overcame, and the unfortunate treatment they were receiving once they arrived. Jesusa Rivera noted, “No one should be treated less than, just because they lack documents, or lack the language, or lack education. It’s not right and I am angry about it!”
The trip also had an important educational component, that is why three students studying the law attended, to see first hand how the law, policy and the reality of the border all mix. Gino Ibenaz, an ND Law student stated, “It is critical that the work of representing immigrants, who may be indigent continue because their rights are only meaningful if they are aware of their rights and they have trained professionals who can advocate for their rights. Otherwise, those rights become mere paper rights. My father was an immigrant and in his time he could have benefited from an explanation of his rights by trained professionals. Knowledge is power. Therefore, passing on important information to immigrants about their rights is a critical step in protecting them.”
We want to thank all of our supporters for helping make this trip possible. This work can’t happen without people who care about speaking up, stepping up, and making a difference. Thank you.