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Story Publication logo January 8, 2020

The Nuns of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez

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Sister Maria Antonia Aranda, a Mexican nun whose motherhouse is located in Michigan, runs a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juárez. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
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During the family-separation crisis of 2018, hundreds of nuns descended on the U.S.-Mexico border to...

The patio outside a shelter in Ciudad Juárez. Migrants from Central America and Cuba gather here to socialize and wash their clothes at the outdoor spigot. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
The patio outside a shelter in Ciudad Juárez. Migrants from Central America and Cuba gather here to socialize and wash their clothes at the outdoor spigot. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.

On both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, Catholic nuns are running shelters and advocating for the rights of migrants. In Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Sister Betty Campbell lives in solidarity with the poor in a small house called Casa Tabor, where she leads discussions with Americans visiting the city on educational trips. Sister Maria Antonia Aranda offers counsel and therapy to Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Cubans who are staying in a local parish. Across the border, Sister Beatrice Donnellan directs Casa Vides, a shelter that welcomes the most vulnerable asylum-seekers released from detention in El Paso.

A painting of migrants by Sister Betty Campbell. In the makeshift shrine behind her house in Juárez, she has hung artwork and inscribed thousands of names to commemorate people murdered in Mexico and migrants who died crossing the desert. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
A painting of migrants by Sister Betty Campbell. In the makeshift shrine behind her house in Juárez, she has hung artwork and inscribed thousands of names to commemorate people murdered in Mexico and migrants who died crossing the desert. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Campbell speaks to a “border immersion” group in her backyard shrine. When Americans come to Juárez on educational trips, they often stop at Campbell’s house, Casa Tabor. She leads a discussion about foreign policy inside and then takes her visitors out to the shrine, where she hands each person a Sharpie and a paper slip with a new name to write on the wall. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Campbell speaks to a “border immersion” group in her backyard shrine. When Americans come to Juárez on educational trips, they often stop at Campbell’s house, Casa Tabor. She leads a discussion about foreign policy inside and then takes her visitors out to the shrine, where she hands each person a Sharpie and a paper slip with a new name to write on the wall. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
For decades, Campbell’s longtime companion, Father Peter Hinde, delivered the mass at Capilla San Esteban, a tiny chapel on a rocky outcropping in the middle of Juárez. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
For decades, Campbell’s longtime companion, Father Peter Hinde, delivered the mass at Capilla San Esteban, a tiny chapel on a rocky outcropping in the middle of Juárez. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Parishioners gather outside the chapel. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Parishioners gather outside the chapel. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
A parishioner lights a ceremonial candle before the mass. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
A parishioner lights a ceremonial candle before the mass. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
A priest talks with a friend outside his Juárez parish, which he has converted into a migrant shelter. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
A priest talks with a friend outside his Juárez parish, which he has converted into a migrant shelter. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Sister Maria Antonia Aranda has been working with the parish priest since January to coordinate legal aid and offer counseling to migrants, including talk and heat therapy. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Sister Maria Antonia Aranda has been working with the parish priest since January to coordinate legal aid and offer counseling to migrants, including talk and heat therapy. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. Mexico, 2019.
Casa Vides, a migrant shelter in El Paso staffed by nuns and lay volunteers, welcomes most of the pregnant women who are released from detention in the city. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Casa Vides, a migrant shelter in El Paso staffed by nuns and lay volunteers, welcomes most of the pregnant women who are released from detention in the city. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
A clothesline behind Casa Vides. Because of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, Casa Vides isn’t as full as usual, but the shelter continues to receive a steady trickle of migrants. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
A clothesline behind Casa Vides. Because of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, Casa Vides isn’t as full as usual, but the shelter continues to receive a steady trickle of migrants. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Beatrice Donnellan, an Irish-born nun, directs Casa Vides. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Beatrice Donnellan, an Irish-born nun, directs Casa Vides. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Beatrice Donnellan speaks with a pair of El Pasoans donating clothes. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Beatrice Donnellan speaks with a pair of El Pasoans donating clothes. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
At Casa Vides, long-term residents and volunteers work together to keep the shelter running. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
At Casa Vides, long-term residents and volunteers work together to keep the shelter running. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Volunteers at Casa Vides store donated clothing in the basement. After Border Patrol drops them off, new arrivals go downstairs to pick out a change of clothes. Bins labeled “niñas—ropa interior” and “Niñas Calcitenes [sic]” hold underwear and socks for children. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Volunteers at Casa Vides store donated clothing in the basement. After Border Patrol drops them off, new arrivals go downstairs to pick out a change of clothes. Bins labeled “niñas—ropa interior” and “Niñas Calcitenes [sic]” hold underwear and socks for children. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Caroline Sweeney, a volunteer, calls relatives of the new arrivals to help them make travel plans. Most migrants leave Casa Vides after one night to join family or friends living elsewhere in the U.S. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
Sister Caroline Sweeney, a volunteer, calls relatives of the new arrivals to help them make travel plans. Most migrants leave Casa Vides after one night to join family or friends living elsewhere in the U.S. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
A Greyhound bus station, less than a mile from Casa Vides. Most of the migrants who stay at Casa Vides ride a plane or bus to their final destination. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.
A Greyhound bus station, less than a mile from Casa Vides. Most of the migrants who stay at Casa Vides ride a plane or bus to their final destination. Image by Lily Moore-Eissenberg. United States, 2019.

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