Educating, Increasing Awareness for the Value of LIFE

Life is everything because it enables one to be. The value of a life is immeasurable. Lives, all lives, deserve to be cherished, loved, honored and respected.

This week, April 24-28, is the 11th annual L.I.F.E. (Life Is for Everyone) Week at the University of San Diego. Hosted by University Ministry’s Students for Life organization and co-sponsored with multiple campus partners, LIFE Week seeks to celebrate and respect the dignity of all human life. It is an opportunity “to educate and to get educated on issues in new ways,” said Students for Life Co-President Anastasia Zuniga.

Addressing a different life issue each day, this year’s topics are suicide awareness/prevention, immigration, abortion, homelessness and domestic violence/sexual assault. Furthermore, be sure to visit the LIFE Week photography display in the Hahn University Center foyer to vote in the “Life Through Different Lenses” photo contest among 42 entries.

LIFE Week - Immigration

Spirituality is Served: Voices of Immigration

“Life Has No Borders,” stated the large sign in a rainbow of colors in the Hahn University Center Forum rooms on Tuesday night. Supporting messages on both sides of it stated, “No Humans are Illegal,” “Don’t Block Out; Allow In,” “You are Welcome,” “You are Loved," and a quote attributed to Pope Francis, in response to then presidential candidate Donald Trump's desire to build a wall between U.S. and Mexico, to “Build Bridges, Not Walls.”

These words, combined with the information and perspectives provided by three speakers — USD undergraduate and law double alumna Rosibel Mancillas Lopez, who is now an immigration lawyer; Father Pat Murphy with Casa del Migrante in Tijuana; and sophomore Kimberly Riveros, president of the new Border Angels student club — offered multiple voices to learn about immigration. 

“That was the goal,” Zuniga said about Tuesday’s event, which doubled as a University Ministry Spirituality is Served offering. “I wanted to provide a few different perspectives about immigration. The only experience I’ve really had is spiritual so this offered new ways to look at it.” 

Rosibel Mancillas Lopez, a double USD alumna and local immigration lawyer, spoke on the legal aspects of immigration, offering case examples and providing pertinent information about the different types of immigration status categories that people fall under, ways in which immigrants can obtain lawful status and ways in which everybody who is not faced with personal immigration issues can educate themselves, support and, in general, be a good, productive and better informed citizen. 

Father Pat Murphy, representing Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, A.C., offered a spiritual perspective on the issue of immigration. He spoke on immigration from the perspective he sees routinely at Casa del Migrante. Founded in 1987, it is a faith-based, nonprofit temporary shelter that provides assistance for men who have been deported back to Mexico from the United States. Fr. Murphy’s spiritual guidance for these men and the Casa’s overall ability to provide some relief — men can stay up to 12 days, receive three meals a day and utilize many valuable resources — demonstrates each day how much of a pro-life issue immigration is. 

A 10-minute small-group discussion then took place. Two questions, one about what new information each person has learned during the event and two, if what you'd heard differed from the media's portrayal of the subject matter.

Riveros, a sociology and psychology double major and Spanish minor, started a USD chapter of the Border Angels club in February. Border Angels is a San Diego-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform and social justice issues specially related to the U.S.-Mexico border. It was founded by Enrique Morones Careaga, who earned a Master of Science degree in Executive Leadership from USD in 2002. The organization’s stated mission is to reduce the number of fatalities occurring along the California border by placing life-saving water stations in the desert. Since 1994, Border Angels states that more than 10,000 people have died from dehydration in their attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The water stations help to reduce the more than 475 deaths each year. 

“When Kimberly told me that dehydration is one of the leading causes of death for migrants, I knew we wanted her voice to be heard during this event,” Zuniga said. 

During her talk, Riveros had students recite a few thank-you letter stories that those who were helped by Border Angels had sent. She invited the campus community to learn more about the student club, which meets in Student Life Pavilion Room 418 every other Tuesday at 7 p.m. On each dining table at Tuesday’s event was a large water container along with cans of food that will be donated to Border Angels for a future water drop off. 

As with each LIFE Week event, the chance to learn and understand issues better and to connect via speakers, workshops and action, is an opportunity to improve awareness of the value of all lives affected. 

Remaining LIFE Week events:

• Wednesday: The LIFE Week topic is abortion. A rosary for the unborn will take place at 8:30 p.m. in Founders Chapel, followed by the 9 p.m. Mass for Peace. Ice cream will be served at 10 p.m. after Mass.

• Thursday: The topic is homelessness. “PB and Jammin’” event will see students make and pack lunches that are donated to St. Vincent de Paul from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Life Pavilion’s Plaza Mayor. DJ Swish will be on hand to play music while students participate in this activity.

• Friday: The topic is domestic violence/sexual assault. "Love Doesn’t Hurt" is a packaging event taking place for survivors of domestic violence from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in UC 107. Care packages of personal items for survivors and movie care packages will be donated to survivors at San Diego’s Becky’s House. This event is co-sponsored by the USD Women’s Center.