The migrant crisis at the US/Mexico border has sparked a contentious debate across America and the world. I have spent countless hours watching broadcasts of the migrant caravan as it makes its way north towards the United States. The images of desperate men, women and children haunt my dreams; I wake up terrified and scared.
When thousands of people risk their lives to escape their circumstances, I ask “why?” The migrants share stories of failed crops, hunger, violence; some of the women share stories of domestic abuse, gang related rape and intimidation. The reasons for leaving their homes are complex and frequently a combination of reasons. The caravan grew in size as the days and weeks passed because the people believed traveling together offered protection. It is difficult for me to see the fear and despair of the migrants as they wait for an opportunity to cross into the United States.
Who is protected and able to request asylum? The 1951 UN refugee convention protects certain groups, those fleeing persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or social group.
I was born in Mexico and came to the US as a child, this is my home. Raised by a single mother who taught her children that anything is possible in America, we believed in the American dream and strived to reach it.
This country offered us the opportunity for an education and a life that we could have never dreamed of in Mexico. Wanting to do something to help the migrants, I reached out to a friend who is active in the Latin community; she put me in touch with the Florida Immigration Coalition.
FLIC is “a statewide alliance of more than 62 member organizations, including farmworkers, students, service providers, grassroots organizations and legal advocates, who come together for the fair treatment of all people, including immigrants.” (FLIC website).
Following is a message from one of the organizers in Tijuana (US/Mexican border), regarding the urgent need for volunteers.
“ENCLAVE CARACOL NEEDS HELP!
We need volunteers that can organize meals, transportation of donations, and help with security/door here at the building. We need tech help, plumbing/construction help, we have too many donations in the building and not enough support transporting them to barretal and other shelters. We are receiving people all day that are looking for food, water, coffee, legal support, a safe place to sit down, clothes, blankets, a chance to charge a cell phone, medical attention, dental care, bathroom…all things that can be organized, but we are constantly being forced to negate these things because the very few volunteers here are completely overwhelmed. We can provide crash course training on what has worked and what hasn’t worked, but we need folks that can connect resources to needs without constantly relying on direction from organizers.
DM me for more info.”
I hear the cry for help, and sign up as a volunteer. I am privileged to join a delegation of volunteers who are heading to Tijuana to provide assistance in the relief effort. Helping others is a calling, I believe it is my responsibility to help the vulnerable and those in need.
Get involved! Make a financial donation to organizations helping with the migrant relief effort, write or call your state representative, or volunteer locally.
What are your thoughts on the humanitarian crisis at the border?