For Danielle Alvarado, storytelling can bring much needed light to the issue of illegal immigration.
Alvarado, a volunteer for No More Deaths, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to alleviate suffering by immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border, told several stories to a crowd of about 20 in the FedEx Global Education Center that sought to de-politicize illegal immigration.
“Storytelling connects us and helps us know what is true and worth remembering,” Alvarado said.
One of the stories Alvarado told was about a boy named Daniel, a 19-year-old suffering from extreme dehydration who collapsed after walking for days through the Arizona desert. He was reluctant to go to the hospital for fear of being deported, but after he collapsed Alvarado’s group decided his life was in danger.
They put him in an ambulance, but U.S. Border Control agents intercepted it on the way to the hospital and threw him back into the middle of the desert.
Alvarado also told a story of a 14-year-old girl, Josseline, immigrating from El Salvador. She was traveling with her younger brother in a group hoping to finally be reunited with her mother. The siblings made it through Mexico to Arizona, but then Josseline started to slow down.
Josseline told her brother to go with the group as she was left behind. She spent two weeks wandering in the desert alone. Volunteers from No More Deaths found her nine days after she died alone.
Alvarado steered the discussion away from politics, but she said the U.S. Border Control was “lazy and had blatant disregard for human life.” Some volunteers have even been charged with felonies for helping undocumented immigrants, she said.
She added that volunteering offers great rewards.
“You meet people you know would have died if you didn’t meet them.”
Susan Page, a women’s studies lecturer who introduced Alvarado, pointed out that illegal immigration has special relevance to North Carolina, as the state has the fastest growing Latino population in the nation.
Theresa Flores, a sophomore, said the issue ties to her personally.
“Immigration is an ongoing issue,” she said. “Despite all the heartbreak, there is still a reason to keep going. We can’t save everyone, but the one person we can help makes a difference. Danielle is inspiring.”
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