Border fair planners seek to open up discussions

2013-10-03T00:00:00Z Border fair planners seek to open up discussionsBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

It’s easy to sit back and complain about border issues, but social groups that are active in the troubled region will gather at a church this weekend to talk action.

Casas Adobes Congregational Church  is hosting the Border Issues Information Fair from 9 a..m. to noon Saturday at 6801 N. Oracle Road.

Judith Keagy, who co-chairs the church’s mission and outreach ministry, said she hopes the conference starts a dialogue among those who want to make a difference on the border.

“We want to try and bring the agencies that are deserving and interested in border issues to the Border Information Fair and open it up to the public to learn more about what these agencies do,” she said.

“At the same time, we want to afford the agencies the opportunity to interact and maybe figure out ways they can collaborate and try to add some light, instead of heat, to the whole issue around the border, particularly as it relates to immigrants themselves.”

The free event will include 12 border-focused groups that will set up exhibits about their work and reach out to those who want to get involved.

Participants include the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Frontera de Cristo, Green Valley Samaritans, Humane Borders, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, Just Coffee, Kino Border Initiative, No More Deaths, Sierra Club Borderlands, Home of Hope & Peace, End Streamline Coalition and Needlework for Nogales Children..

The Rev. Lee Milligan said his church has been investigating border issues for most of the year.

“As we became more aware, we found that many groups were working not so much at a legislative level, but on the ground level, to address problems of immigration,” he said. “We all know the system is not in good shape. We need immigration reform. While we’re waiting for whatever Washington does, there are groups that are trying to give aid and have a positive effect with the problems.”

The event will be free of politics, Milligan said.

“It’s just going to be information,” he said. “No matter what the politics are, what the posturing is or what the propaganda is, there are people’s lives at stake. We want to remember that these organizations are active in trying to help and save people’s lives by giving them alternatives to try to cross the border legally or try to keep these people from the cruel and unusual punishment of dying in the desert.”

Keagy said the fair’s theme is education.

“We’re trying to be supportive in educating ourselves and the public about what’s available,” she said.

Eloise Clymer, a church volunteer, said the groups involved will get a chance to identify problems they’ve found and demonstrate their solutions.

“I think they have the same problems that we are concerned about in Tucson,” Clymer said. “Are children being fed? Are they being educated? Are they being cared for? Do they have parks to play in? Do they have clothing? Do they feel secure and safe?”

Milligan hopes the fair has lasting effects.

“The philosophy is that this information keeps the issue in terms of the human element, and kind of gives it the spotlight,” he said. “Hopefully, it will garner support for the organizations that are taking positive steps.”

Contact Phil Villarreal at pvillarreal@azstarnet.com or 573-4130.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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