In some areas of the U.S. border with Mexico, 1,200-1,500 migrants are crossing each day and many are released after being detained, with no transportation or shelter.
Churches and faith-based organizations are playing a key role in providing for the basic needs of thousands of migrant families seeking refuge from violence in Central America.
Here is an excerpt from an NPR story describing the needs of migrant families when they arrive and how medical volunteers are becoming increasingly exhausted and overwhelmed:
Unlike previous waves of immigration, these are not single men from Mexico looking to blend in and find work.
Most are families — fleeing gang violence, political instability or dire poverty…
Cristian, 21, and his 5-month-old baby, Gretel, arrived at an El Paso shelter in a former assisted living facility early one afternoon. He'd never been alone this long with his daughter, he said. His wife — a minor — had been separated from them at the border, put in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Cristian didn't know when she might be released.
While in detention, he had spent several nights with Gretel on a concrete floor in a room with more than 100 other men, he said. He asked a guard for a better sleeping situation. Instead of receiving help, he said, he was punished by being forced to sit and stare at a wall for over an hour as Gretel cried in his arms.
Still breastfeeding before she was separated from her mother, she would suck on his nose and at his shirt. He was worried that she wasn't getting enough to eat and that the formula he was giving her wasn't as good for her as breast milk. Dr. Garcia told him the baby looked healthy.
Still, Cristian was anxious and grew increasingly distressed as he recounted their history.
"Will the baby be OK?" he asked in Spanish.
She [Dr. Blanca Garcia, El Paso pediatrician] assured the young father he was doing everything he could.
How you can help
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” Matthew 25:35
Donate checks or gift cards
We have compiled a list of organizations and churches who are helping migrants, with notes from a nurse who recently visited the southern border.
Make checks to:
c/o Laredo First United Methodist Church
Attention: Roxanne Buentello-Wesley Nurse
1220 McClelland Ave,
Laredo, TX 78040
Rio Grande Valley
No medical services are available and that is a big need as most people have been walking for months and exhibiting signs of stress, malnourishment, and low immune systems. The two entities involved with helping are the Ministry Center in McAllen, and Daughters of Charity. They are stretched thin and need all the help they can get. Funds are needed to cover basic needs (food, underwear, hygiene items, over the counter meds, towels, etc.)
I met a lady when I went to the respite Center in McAllen. She was with her daughter; her husband was killed in Honduras. Her shoes and her daughter’s shoes were gone and obviously she felt embarrassed by it when someone asked her why she had no shoes. We could not get her any shoes that day
El Valle District UMC
Attn: Susan Hellums
1801 Trenton Rd.
McAllen, TX 78504
Del Rio, Texas:
They have never had to work with a similar situation, so everything had to be set up from scratch. Marti, our Parish Nurse, has mobilized a group of people to take action and built a coalition in no time. Through that they were able to get the city to open a building as a respite center. They have about 100 people released daily. The difference from Laredo and McAllen is that buses do not leave daily, so most people have to spend 1 or 2 nights in the city. They need funds to cover basic needs for people.
Make checks to:
Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition
Send Checks and gift cards to:
Del Rio First United Methodist Church
Attention: Marti Faulkner, Wesley Nurse
P.O. Box 1234
Del Rio, TX 78841
Or Donate ONLINE at www.VVBHCoalition.com
Eagle Pass, Texas
About 80 people released daily at night. There is no guidance to the people coming in, no aid group involved yet. Pastor Becky Ballou from got call from CBP telling her that the families were on the street. She spent most of the night taking families from the street to the catholic church who housed them over night. The Bus company has tripled their bus fare to San Antonio, taking advantage of the people who already do not have resources and are going through very difficult situations. They need funds for basic needs (food, water, clothing, hygiene kits, towels, etc). The crossing around Eagle pass is dangerous. With the rains, a number of people have drowned. A 2-year-old, a 7 year old and their mom almost drowned recently.
Make checks to:
Mission Border Hope
Send Checks and gift cards to:
Eagle Pass First United Methodist Church
Attention: Pastor Becky Baxter Ballou
571 Quarry Street
Eagle Pass, TX 78852
Or donate ONLINE: https://www.missionborderhope.org/donate
St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Albuquerque St. Michael’s supports the immigrant sanctuaries at the Albuquerque Friends Meeting House and the First Congregational United Church of Christ; and is an Advocating Congregation of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of New Mexico.
601 Montano Road NW Albuquerque, NM 87107 email@example.com 505.345.8147 http://www.all-angels.com/immigration-sanctuary.html
El Paso, Texas
Annunciation House is overseeing multiple Temporary Hospitality Centers in El Paso, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and even Albuquerque, NM. Many of the centers are buildings affiliated with religious congregations or organizations; some are motels in El Paso. All the centers are staffed entirely by volunteers.
Annunciation House is categorically opposed to the detention of refugees that pose no security risk to the U.S. Annunciation House is also opposed to the incredibly cruel practice of separating families and detaining part of a family. Finally, Annunciation House is opposed to the practice of releasing families to the street instead of to hospitality houses or centers, thereby ensuring that they have a place to sleep, eat, shower, change clothing, etc.
Donation can be made online at our website, www.annunciationhouse.org, or checks can be mailed to our office at 815 Myrtle Ave, El Paso TX 79901 (make out to Annunciation House).
The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona is partnering with other faiths to provide for families' basic needs.
Send check to (denote "Border Ministry" fund in memo):
Diocese of Arizona
114 W. Roosevelt St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003-1406
Or online: https://fronteras.azdiocese.org/
Rio Grande Borderland Ministries is an agency of the Diocese of the Rio Grande and is committed to serving those in need in the New Mexico and far western Texas borderlands. RGBM is dedicated to understanding and identifying needs throughout the borderlands of the Diocese and implementing solutions. Food, clothing, blankets, habitat, education, medical and legal assistance are just some of the needs addressed. The compassionate response of RGBM to those in need is simple: everyone eats, everyone is clothed, everyone has a safe and healthy habitat, and everyone is loved.
Ms. Susan Hutchins, missioner Rio Grande Borderland Ministries PO Box 216 Columbus, NM 88029 267.322.1708
Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the work of the Anglican Church in Mexico to provide shelter, food, water and other basic needs of migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the United States.
Note: These opportunities have not been vetted and may involve risks. Most places are looking for long term (6 weeks or more) volunteers.
Catholic Charities, Albuquerque
Catholic Charities and other local organizations have created a sustained process to provide hospitality to these migrant families with the help of supporting agencies and volunteers.
Annunciation House, El Paso
They are seeking long term (more than 6 weeks) volunteers to provide hospitality or medical services to the hundreds of migrants arriving each day.
Volunteers periodically travel to border areas to maintain water stations. Volunteers provide outreach to migrants that live in Canyons in North County with food, water and used clothing.
No More Deaths / No Mas Muertes
Groups and individuals participating in our volunteer programs provide direct aid in the US–Mexico borderlands, where people migrating continue to unnecessarily suffer and die crossing a militarized border. We mobilize as humanitarian-aid and human-rights workers in the Arizona desert to challenge lethal and cruel policies that systematically place migrants on the receiving end of violence.
Contact your Elected Officials
This humanitarian crisis is impacted by U.S. policies including immigration and detention policies. Contact Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and your representative to express your opinion:
Noted photos provided by Mission Border Hope.