EL PASO ENCOUNTERS
Humanitarian Response on the US-Mexico Border
Ciudad Nueva is a faith-rooted 501(c)3 public charity embedded for the last 15 years in central El Paso's Rio Grande neighborhood striving to cultivate hope and an environment where immigrant youth and families are empowered for a successful future. Given our strategic location on the border and motivated by the challenges currently facing our region we have incubated a separate initiative, El Paso Encounters, in order to respond to the most pressing needs of our border community, educate about the realities on the ground, and connect resources to where they are needed most.
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 and poverty. The majority of those fleeing are making their way across Mexico 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 their 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.
EL PASO RESPONSE
A loose coalition of local organizations, mostly churches, have emerged to provide temporary shelters in El Paso for over 10,000 asylum seekers each month facing this situation. 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. The response to this need has been admirable yet it is also overwhelming the local community. There are no government funds supporting this effort.
El Paso Encounters has become a supportive entity to recruit new churches to the effort, network with site directors, understand needs, collect & distribute donations, connect volunteers, and host groups interested in border immersion & volunteer experiences. We are also connecting with churches and organizations across the border in Ciudad in order to support their efforts. The scope of the challenge has far outweighed our capacity to be as effective as needed.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
- Pray for safety, health, comfort, hope & faith for those fleeing danger, and for the provision of immediate basic necessities.
- Shop for needed supplies through this Amazon wish list http://tinyurl.com/
EPBElistor collect and send needed supplies including travel bags, toiletry kits & items for children (see list below).
- Make a tax deductible financial contribution toward the effort by clicking on the link below. Not including shelter, it costs about $24 to provide the basic needs for one family upon arrival, and $40 for a 2-day stay including food & supplies for the onward journey.
- Become a fundraiser for the effort by clicking on the link below. The process is simple and easily shareable via email or social media.
- Donate or provide funding for a 15-passenger van or a pickup truck.
- Consider bringing a group to El Paso for a Border Encounter to experience in person the realities of the US-Mexico border and serve at a temporary migrant shelter. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Bags: simple backpacks, duffel bags or large totes. Nonperishable snacks, energy bars & water bottles.
Toiletry Kits: razors, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, zip lock bags, hair brushes, body wash (travel size liquids).
Children's Items: coloring books, Spanish books w/ illustrations or activities, English language learning books w/ pictures, small toys, puzzles, crayons, coloring pencils, markers, children's hats.
Clothing: NEW socks, sports bras, and underwear for men (XS, S, M), women (Size 4 & 5) & children.
Mail items to: El Paso Encounters, 810 N. Campbell, El Paso, TX 79902