The path made by Phillip Kennedy in the migratory issues.

Phillip Kennedy is a professional with experience in the field of migration issues between Mexico and the United States. He has become an example of bounty and solidarity over time for all the people who can presume to know him.

Since he was a child he had known he wanted to spend his life helping people, making this world a better place to be. So, when he finished High School in 2005, he decided to study Peace and Conflicts Studies at Guilford College, in North Carolina.

As he says, university brought him an over view about the world and the amount of conflicts waiting to be solved at any time in any region of the world. It was an encouragement to give his bit in order to improve the situation of disadvantaged, he says. For him ‘University brings you the knowledge you need to focus your interests, but the experience you get while you are working can’t be achieved just by reading or hearing about it’.

On his third year of University he came to Spain to spend a year abroad studying in Madrid at Universidad Europea. He considers travelling as an essential part of learning, especially when it comes to international studies as Peace and Conflict or International Relations. ‘You have to live it on your own to be able to understand people who is in a foreign country asking you to help them’.

He made some volunteering during his studies and after finishing university. He believes that voluntary workings benefits your life and others in many ways.’ It brings you experience on the field you wanted but also it is a very gratifying effort, because you are fighting for an important cause and sometimes you are able to see face to face the result of that in others’ lives.’

He considers important the one he was working in on the border with Mexico. The organization was called Frontera de Cristo and the Migrant Resource Center, a joint project of Frontera de Cristo and the Sagrada Familia church. He started there making voluntary works and he finally became coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center.

It was a partnership of many different people and organizations working together towards the common goal of helping migrants. ‘Migrants sometimes need some basic humanitarian helps, especially those who have been recently deported, the Resource Center helps them with basic medical attention, food, and sometimes even with clothes.’ It also provides them information when they need it, for example the different options they have to return to their place of origin. Another important part of the Center’s work is abuse documentation, which they use to better understand the situation migrants face, and in some cases, help victims of crimes pursue legal options.

‘Problems about migrations are much bigger than we think they are’ He said. While he was working at the Migrant Resource Center he didn’t have much work face to face with the migrants, his functions were more related with the administrative and coordinating issues. Though, he was able to see the numbers of people passing through the borders from Mexico to united states, the conditions they had lived, studies about the reasons why the moved, the rates of discrimination suffered by the migrants, deportations, and some particular complains. Numbers were high, but he said the situation was getting better step by step.

Frontera de Cristo was allied to religion. He liked that it promoted solidary values and non-lucrative help. But he didn’t like the fact that the organization sometimes didn’t accept atheist volunteers or promoters of other values. ‘Tolerance and respect are incompatible with discrimination in any of its forms, including discriminative attitudes related to religious beliefs’ he said.

I couldn’t help asking him what he thought about the discriminative policies that Donald Trump wanted to establish if he became president. He laughed. ‘It would be really disappointing if he actually became president. But there is nothing to fear, what he wants to do is just illegal, he cannot oust out of the country millions of people and build up a wall to keep them out, it’s just another insane idea of this brainless character’- ‘If that ever happened the organizations I have worked with would have a lot of work to do, and to change that’ He added.

Nowadays he is working for the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), in Washington. It is an independent organization funded 20 years ago, to provide migrants (most of them from Latin America) in the area of DC with the competences and financial helps to have their dwelling and develop their lives in their new country. Here Phil has a more direct contact with migrants, as he said ‘Some of them have a lot of suffering from unfair and discriminative treatments, and it is hard to see that, but they are so thankful when you help them that it makes our work really grateful’. Their helps are very variated, but all of them are focused on guaranteeing a dignity future for migrants. Transforming ideas into reality, guiding youth realize their potential, overcoming a language barrier, asserting their rights to preserve their affordable housing and more.  Comparing with his previous work, LEDC is related to a smaller field of action, but results are more immediate and direct contact is enriching. ‘In terms of numbers, we have $44M of public investment in DC government funds allocated to affordable housing projects facilitated by LEDC,  more than 3000 families were assisted with affordable housing preservation services, and we also made 40 new homeowners and 48 new businesses sparked’

He openly encouraged students of international areas to fight for their beliefs and do as much as they can to make the world a better place to live for everyone. As he said ‘If you want to achieve the change, the moment to do it is now’.

Ana Delia Porta and Phillip Kennedy during the interview.

By Ana Delia Porta Moreno.


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