El Paso, TX

Immigration and Border Patrol Experience in El Paso, Texas
Housing and Experiences at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
June 10 – 16, 2018

In the El Paso program, we partnered with the World Leadership School (WLS) and a local Catholic, non-profit, Annunciation House, to provide students with a unique and multifaceted view of immigration. Students had a chance to visit the government agencies responsible for controlling the border, including the U.S. Border Patrol, the Federal Court System and Detention Center, as well as the many non-profit and religious organizations who work with migrant workers and undocumented immigrants. Students got a first-hand glimpse into the complexities of immigration and challenges on all sides of the issue.

El Paso, Texas, has always been pulled between two different worlds. Because of its history, El Paso represents a fascinating window into the complexities of the U.S.-Mexico border – and, in fact, the complexity of many international borders around the world. The nearly 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico sees 350 million legal crossings annually, making it the busiest border in the world. The more remote areas of the border see another estimated 500,000 illegal entries, and the U.S. government is ramping up efforts to better secure the border and pass immigration reform.

Why El Paso? While the debate over U.S. immigration continues, a tight-knit community of government and non-profit agencies continue to adapt to the ebbs and flows of migration over the border near El Paso. El Paso has been ranked the safest large city in the U.S. for four consecutive years (ahead of of New York City and Austin). Its standing as one of America’s safest large cities is due in large part to the cooperation between all the different organizations – government, non-profit, and business – which come together at the border.

The El Paso immersion experience was organized by the highly respected national organization, World Leadership School (WLS), that specializes in unique collaborative leadership programs around the world. The staff of WLS have decades of experience working in different educational environments. Their focus is logistics, risk management, program design, professional development, and consulting. WLS Country Coordinators live and work year round in program overseas countries. They screen and evaluate transport and other service providers, and provide ground support for WLS groups. WLS instructors on each tour are veteran educators with extensive international experience. They have wilderness first responder training and often have past affiliations with Peace Corps, Outward Bound, and/or independent schools.

“We took a walk to the Federal Courthouse of Western Texas in downtown El Paso. There, we observed a misdemeanor plea and sentencing for nine people who crossed the border illegally and were caught by border. It was very interesting to hear each of their stories through their responses to the judge and their attorney’s statements. After the sentencing ended, the attorneys on both sides, two border patrol agents, and two US Marshals talked to us and answered some questions. The federal prosecutor for the US Government addressed us personally and told us the challenges of finding a balance of being inclusive and helping people, but also enforcing the laws and keeping our country safe.” (WLS website)