Identifying the Need
Tens of thousands of families are fleeing from the northern triangle of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala).
The underlying factors influencing this exodus are complicated but can mostly be linked to:
- Gang violence
- Extortion & Corruption
- Disintegrated families
The majority of those fleeing are making their way across Mexico and attempting to reach the border with the United States.
The realities in these countries have also been affected by US foreign and domestic policy. The majority of those fleeing are making their way across Mexico, often paying smugglers for the journey, and attempting to reach the border with the United States.
Upon crossing the border, families turn themselves in to U.S. authorities and request the opportunity to seek asylum. Families are detained for a short period and, if they pass the first level of scrutiny, are released with electronic ankle monitors to proceed to their destinations in the U.S. to await immigration court hearings. Asylum seekers are usually released with nothing but the clothes on their backs, often without enough money to even make a phone call. They have little knowledge of where they are, do not speak English and, without assistance, would find themselves in extremely vulnerable situations.
More recently the Migrant Protection Protocol (commonly knows as “Remain in Mexico”) has caused the majority of those seeking asylum to be forced to await their court hearings in Ciudad Juarez. Currently around 500 people/day are returned to Juarez and 150/day are allowed to pursue their court hearings in the U.S.
Understanding the Need
Annunciation House, a long-term house of hospitality for migrants in El Paso, has been coordinating temporary housing for those released by ICE rather than allowing them to be dropped off in the streets or at the bus station. The numbers of those released has risen to 400-750 each day.
A loose coalition of local organizations, mostly churches, emerged over the last couple of years to provide temporary shelter in El Paso for the thousands seeking asylum and released into El Paso. Rather than allow asylum seekers to be released to the streets to fend for themselves, temporary shelters are providing intakes, phone calls to relatives to purchase bus/plane tickets, showers, food, clean clothing, a place to sleep for 1-3 nights, transportation to the bus station/airport, and food for the journey. Recently the numbers of asylum seekers released into El Paso has decreased due to more stringent enforcement of the Remain in Mexico policy.
Simultaneously the numbers of asylum seekers returned to wait in Juarez has increased and there are only about 19 organizations/churches providing shelter. Instead of simply passing through town, as they do in El Paso, the number of asylum seekers needing shelter in Juarez grows each day as they are forced to return from the border. There are currently thousands of asylum seekers in Juarez awaiting court hearings. The shelters are doing all they can but they are stretched very thin and are in need of donated items and financial support.
Abara (under the umbrella of Ciudad Nueva) works as a supportive entity to network with shelter directors, understand needs, collect & distribute donations, connect volunteers, and host groups interested in border immersion & volunteer experiences.