The vision of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a binational organization that works in the area of migration on the U.S.-Mexico border, is simple in description: to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality. Nevertheless, the importance of the KBI’s undertaking cannot be overstated considering the escalating crisis that surrounds the continuing deportation of mostly Mexican citizens back to their home county and the United States’ continued discussion on immigration reform.
For the KBI and its staff’s willingness to serve and care for migrants who have nowhere else to turn, The University of Scranton presented KBI with the annual Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Award for Distinguished Contributions to Ignatian Mission and Ministry on April 25. KBI Executive Director Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
A Catholic collaborative effort between the United States and Mexico that focuses on humanitarian assistance, education, research, and social-pastoral outreach in the area of migration, KBI is located in the twin cities that share the name of Nogales (southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico). This location is a major point of entry and deportation for migrants in the Southwest, hosting men, women and children – often possessing little more than the clothes on their back – who have been deported from the U.S. Many of these recently deported people are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, often at the hands of drug cartels.
“Our vision is, we want the border to be a more humane place,” Fr. Carroll said.
KBI also collects research and information about the border and works with other international organizations that advocate on behalf of immigration reform. Fr. Carroll attended a Capitol Hill hearing in April, testifying about a new report that’s shedding light on disturbing cases of family separation caused by current U.S. immigration policy.
KBI’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the Border Research Partnership honored the organization for its humanitarian work in 2012, presenting an award for binational cooperation and innovation along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It is fitting that the organization is named after Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., a Jesuit missionary and explorer called the “padre on horseback,” who dedicated his life to bringing Christianity to a region that is today the center of the immigration crisis.
Having served as KBI’s executive director since its inception in January 2009, Fr. Carroll previously served as associate pastor at Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles. He later became the pastoral ministries assistant for the California Province of the Society of Jesus, helping coordinate pastoral initiatives among 12 Jesuit parishes in California, Arizona, Utah, and Hawaii. As part of this ministry, he assisted with the exploratory phase of a new migrant ministry in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.
Fr. Carroll earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University in 1988. After being ordained a priest in 2000, he served for four years as associate pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Oakland.
The award is named in honor of the late Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. Scranton instituted the award in 1995 to further its namesake’s vision by recognizing men and women for outstanding contributions in a wide variety of Ignatian-inspired ministries.