BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Baylor University will begin a collaboration with the Diocese of Brownsville to provide resources and raise awareness to the amount of immigrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley.

Lori E. Baker, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives, Collaboration and Leadership Development at Baylor University, founded the Reuniting Families Project (RFP) in 2003. According to RFP’s website, the project was created to establish a system for identifying the remains of deceased undocumented immigrants found along the U.S./Mexico border.

Baker met Bishop E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville during a mass he conducted at St. Joseph the Worker church in McAllen. Baker said Flores has been very outspoken on matters of immigration, care and responsibility, particularly towards those from Central America.

“I was just reading yesterday how [Flores] came out and said it’s tantamount to facilitating the murder of these children by sending them back to their home countries because that is the fate that they go to and that’s why they came to the U.S. in the first place,” Baker said. “So we’ve asked him what can we do as a university–what can Baylor do in the Rio Grande Valley to help those that are coming across? What sort of ways can we volunteer and resources and also awareness can we bring to the rest of the nation as to what he’s seeing in this area?”

Baker said there are hundreds of people going through Brooks County everyday and that they are mostly women and children.

“I don’t think enough people in the U.S. really understand how [immigration] is impacting South Texas,” Baker said. “I don’t think they understand the care and the love that people have here. It’s very difficult for people outside of Texas to understand why we don’t want a wall. We’ve been part of Mexico, we have friends [and family] on both sides of the border, we’ve freely gone back forth and businesses work together across the border.”

With Texas’ 85th Legislature to begin Jan. 10, 2017, Baker said if the government’s going to keep putting money into things, the money should go into helping nations find stability–to have justice and to have rule of law.

“I would love to see our legislators go to Washington D.C. and say this is unacceptable and then talk about the root causes of immigration,” Baker said. “Let’s not talk about remedies and band aids. Let’s talk about root causes and let’s try to find a solution to basically allowing to live in their home countries. They don’t come here because they want to be Americans, they come here because they don’t want to die. The majority of people that I meet and I would say you don’t have tens of thousands of people leaving their home country because of poverty.”

Editor’s Note: Reporter Steve Taylor contributed to this story from McAllen, Texas. The main image accompanying this story shows Lori E. Baker being interviewed by a reporter at South Texas College in McAllen.