In the last week of September, Enrique Morones, founder and Director of Border Angels, came to Ithaca, NY and spoke at the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca. Border Angels is an organization that advocates for the rights of migrants and runs innovative programs, like water drops in the US-Mexico border area, to help prevent unnecessary deaths in border crossings.
We had a chance to sit down with Enrique and discuss the role of universities in advocacy, and some of the overlap with challenges faced by the Cornell Farmworker Program.
Christian Elliott: What is the relationship between advocacy organizations like Border Angels and academic institutions?
Enrique Morones: We work with students to produce research on what is myth and reality with migrants. For example, undocumented migrants paid 27 billion USD in taxes last year and are much more likely not to be criminals. Those things are very important thing for people to know; one of the most difficult and challenging things is to get that message to the correct audience.
When I’m talking to Tucker Carlson Or Laura Ingraham on Fox News, for the majority of the audience, I’m the devil and I’m not going to sway them at all. But the people who haven’t made up their minds hear the facts and think, “I didn’t know that”. That there isn’t a line that migrants can into, that 11,000 people have died in border crossing attempts since 1994 and that there already is a wall on the US-Mexico border. So the research is invaluable. It is very important, and you have to have the source.
CE: What’s the balance in advocacy work with regards to empirical evidence and human stories?
EM: You have to know your audience. It’s very important. There are certain audiences; all they are going to care about is the academic aspects of issue, otherwise the faith-based aspects, etc.
I try to mix in a little bit of the story telling. But If the audience if Fox news, there’s certain things I’m not going to say, because it will just shut them out even more. I’ll still give the same message, but just deliver it in a different way. Read more