Into the Borderlands: A journey for collective responsibility, deep analysis, and effective action
by Cristobal Lagunas
The current news tells us that 15K “invaders” are coming from Central America to threaten U.S. national security. The narrative is: “these” people come from a savage land to make a mockery of American values. This narrative is ugly and violent. To many of us it feels like the world is crumbling around us and we struggle to find a way to interact with it, to slow the process down, to fight back. Especially when the truth is, these people — migrants, mothers, fathers, sisters, daughters, sons, visionaries — our people, come from places that have been destroyed, corrupted, and polluted by neoliberal, violent, exploitative economic policies and politics. They come with a will to live, to contribute, to be better, to do better for them and their families. They seek asylum from life and death situations. They seek asylum for the conditions they live in - some which they didn’t have any decision making on and some that they cannot change without support. It is our duty and human responsibility to welcome them with open arms and undeniable love. Furthermore, we must welcome them with effective action and honor their wish, political asylum in the United States.
The dominant narratives are asking the wrong questions. Our analysis and our solutions will depend on the questions we ask ourselves. Why are there more than 10,000 people leaving their homes, their families? Why are they going to the US? It is a complex situation and there are no easy answers, no easy solutions.
How we frame the issues has consequences of life and death. The difference between “invaders” and “asylum-seekers” is being tear gassed, deported, and/or killed or being offered an opportunity to live. People are at the border because it is their right, and because they have no other choice — because they haven’t been given another choice. Traveling through Mexico on foot and asking for political asylum at a port of entry on the border is their right and it’s legal. The system is designed to work this way. Often times we hear things like “Get in line!” … well, this is what the line looks like for the people that created the laws.
The Migrant Caravan has arrived at the border and slowly but surely they are starting to disperse from Tijuana into other Mexican border towns in hope (and in right) of seeking asylum. So in the face of this urgent need of support, the question remains, how do we help?
4 ways you can help
Resources and support should go directly to organizations at the border in Mexico. These are the groups organizing essential aid and services for asylum seekers:
Here is a list of suggested actions you can take to support the hard work happening in the borderlands. This list was put together in collaboration with our friends from the Centro de Información para Migrantes. Here it is!
Sponsorships! U.S. Citizens can sponsor political asylum seekers. Sponsorships usually entail supporting basic living needs and arrangements. Contact Centro de Información para Migrantes via their FaceBook page to get more information.
Donate! Shelters and soup kitchens are welcoming the caravan all along the border. Resources are a constant need, money and clothes make the best help. Money goes directly to migrant expenses as they get ready to ask for asylum in the U.S. as well as to migrants in detention, for food and phone calls. Clean clothes go a long way too, our people arrive at the shelters off a long journey on the road. Often times their clothes and shoes are in bad shape, these organizations do their best to provide them with clothes and shoes to to continue their journey. Choose an org to send donations to.
Become a penpal! One of the many unfortunate realities of the asylum process is that a number of people coming in the caravan will spend time in detention. They must not be forgotten. Reach out to the same organizations on the above list and ask about how to become a penpal for someone in detention.
Support a local organization! The people coming in the Caravan who enter the U.S, will be sent to detention centers all across the country. This means that when (if) they get released they will need access to simple services like health care access, jobs, education, English classes, and more. Organizations in the U.S. are doing this work. To donate or volunteer with an immigrant rights organization in your area, check out this list to start.
As you can see, there are many ways to take immediate action and respond to this urgent situation. Make sure to share it your friends and family, every bit of help counts. Are you down?!