He recalls one migrant whom he followed especially closely. Some years back, he taught special ed for a period in Guatemala, and a teacher there later told him online that his wife was setting off solo to sneak into the US. Alex tracked her progress as best as he could through her husband, and she made it across somehow into Arizona. Then she got into Texas, where she was detained by ICE. People from Immaculate Home managed to get in touch with her, and even secondhand, it seemed like the end of an epic quest to Alex. But the woman soon accepted deportation and went right back to Guatemala.
"I remember one of the house coordinators said in reference to guests, 'Well, but, when they get deported ...' and I don't remember the second half of the sentence because I was shocked. 'Don't you mean, IF they get deported?' I asked. She simply shrugged."
Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images
And back when she started, someone probably shrugged at her when she asked the same question.
And if that's their fate, you might say that harboring illegal immigrants doesn't accomplish a whole lot. Giving food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless are works of mercy, says Alex. But it seems that much of the time, you're giving people some comfort in the middle of a round trip right back to the same terrible place they were before. In a movie, there'd always be some scene at the end where you meet the person months or years later, having put their lives together, offering a nice "Thank You" for being there when they were at their worst. In the real world, you do your best for people, and then they disappear into the wastelands like Mad Max.
"The reality was, their being deported was completely and utterly outside of our control," says Alex. "We did everything we could to ensure that it didn't happen while they were at the house -- literally while they were inside of the building -- and we advocated in court for those who had a real case. But ultimately, we couldn't stop men with guns from doing their jobs."
Ryan Menezes is an editor and interviewer here at Cracked. Follow him on Twitter for stuff cut from articles and other things no one should see.
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