Al Bertrand is posed in the center of the photo, smirking at the camera.
Category: Georgetown Faces

Title: Al Bertrand

Date Published: March 3, 2020

I traveled with Georgetown colleagues for the Kino Border Initiative to put faces to the people at the border, rather than just read about immigration in the abstract.

Seeing so many families waiting at the border for their asylum cases to be heard was heartbreaking. Serving meals to migrants in the comedor and talking with them about their journeys to the border was an extraordinary experience. I was floored by the resilience and grace of people in these incredibly difficult circumstances.

I did not realize that the U.S. government’s Operation Streamline requires that illegal border crossings be handled through the criminal justice system and that these cases are heard en masse. As many as 80 defendants can be sentenced at the same time.

It’s an eye-and-heart-opening experience to see migrants lined up for a meal, some with all of their possessions, literally a quarter-mile from the U.S. border.

My four days at the border have compelled me to volunteer to work with immigrants in my own community and share with my Georgetown University Press colleagues what I experienced through KBI. I am hoping that we will one day publish a book about the migrants at the Kino Border Initiative.