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(Updated 12/1/18; sign up for updates here.)

A caravan of refugees from Honduras is encamped in Tijuana.  The State Commission of Human Rights in Baja California (Comisión Estatal de los Derechos Humanos, CEDH) reports

  • 5,632 migrants
  • 3,598 are men
  • 1041 women
  • 506 boys
  • 487 girls
This information is changing every day as they keep arriving to Tijuana. The government set up a temporary shelter in Deportivo Benito Juarez that has capacity for 2,300 people, and it is overcrowded and in terrible conditions.  The rest of the migrants are on the streets. It has been raining for the last two days and many migrants are sleeping in the open and exposed.  There are six showers in an open field for the migrants with no privacy, so migrants shower with their clothes on and get dry with the same blankets they sleep with.  Private organizations are collecting and providing aid.  The caravan has been attacked in the national and local media in language similar to that used by the Trump administration.  LGBT refugees have been targeted, harassed, and assaulted.  One-year Mexican humanitarian visas are available, but most migrants do not have access to information about how to obtain them. The YMCA shelter, which is the shelter for unaccompanied minors in Tijuana, together with UNICEF, UNHCR, DIF, INM, and COMAR have created a channel of communication to make sure no unaccompanied underage minors are deported.  The rush on the border last week is widely viewed as having been provoked by deliberate misinformation in order to provide rationale for increased military presence at the border.

These migrants are fleeing torture, extortion, death threats, rape, assault, violence directed at LGBT people, and civil unrest in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  The UN has called this a western hemisphere refugee crisis.

What can you do to help?

  1. SPEAK UP:  Educate yourself, and use social and traditional media to make these points:
  • REFUGEES ARE HUMAN BEINGS:  Many of the people arriving at our southern border are fleeing death threats, assault, rape, and torture in their home countries.  They are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Some are college-educated; some are veterans who have been targeted for their service; some are LGBTI people who are targeted for their sexuality. We know their individual stories.  We ask our friends and neighbors to listen.
  • #COMPASSIONNOTDETENTION:  Refugees need shelter, food, medical care, information, and support.  They should not be imprisoned, harmed, or further persecuted. History will judge us as to how we respond to them.  We call on the UN, the United States, and our federal, state, and local officials to provide resources and protection to refugees at our southern border and to end refugee detention now.  

2.  ORGANIZE:  Reach out to friends and neighbors who you believe want to act as well.  Hold a house meeting and educate yourselves about the caravan and immigration policy. In this quickly shifting humanitarian situation, we can put aside our fear and hesitation to act directly in compassion and courage. Have faith that you can organize a small grassroots effort that will be meaningful--such as contributing in one of the ways outlined below.

3. DONATE CASH:  Pueblo Sin Fronteras is on the ground with the caravan and accepting donations to helpYou can also donate to Al Otro Lado / PayPal to EspacioMigrante (Tijuana-based direct aid), Jewish Family Services (San Diego-based direct aid--though please note, the needs are more acute on the Tijuana side at this time), Alliance San Diego (travel funds to help released asylum-seekers get to safe places in the US).  You can also purchase goods through Border Angels, which maintains a registry at Target.

4.  DONATE GOODS:  If you can purchase and bring items to Tijuana, donations of supplies can be delivered to "Enclave Caracol" Address: Calle Primera 8250, Zona Norte, 22127, Tijuana.  Most needed items include tents, blankets, sleeping pads or small mattresses, sleeping bags, towels, bottled water, winter clothes (nighttime temps in 40s and 50s), underwear and socks, diapers, tampons and pads, razors and other personal hygiene items.

 4.  VOLUNTEER:  Immigration attorneys and legal observers are desperately needed.  Contact Erika Gonzalez: volunteer@alotrolado.org.  Medical personnel are also needed to treat malnutrition, flu, and injuries from assaults and rock throwing directed at refugees and foot injuries sustained during caravan travel. Sign up here. Spanish-speaking volunteers will be needed in San Diego to assist arriving asylum seekers.  Sign up here.

4.  DIVEST:  Call on CALPERS and CALSTRS to engage with CoreCivic and demand end of detention for refugees and humane treatment according to California state standards, or to divest entirely.  If you are a state or represented employee, talk to your union local to join the effort and educate its members. Background here.  Petition here.   

5. INVESTIGATE:  Write a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra to visit Otay Mesa and read the accounts of refugees held in detention.  (The California Department of Justice has been charged by the State Legislature with exercising oversight over detention centers in California and is required to submit a comprehensive report of its findings to the state lawmakers by March 2019.)  Call on him to hold Core Civic accountable to California standards for human rights in detention.  Copy your assembly members, state senators, and congresspeople.

Attorney General's Office

California Department of Justice

Attn: Public Inquiry Unit

P.O. Box 944255

Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

http://www.assembly.ca.gov

http://www.senate.ca.gov

7.  WITNESS:  Request a stakeholder tour of the Otay Mesa Detention Center: (619) 671-8700 . OMDC has historically held stakeholder tours each Wednesday at 10 a.m and 1 p.m. to groups of up to 12 affiliated with an established organization (church, synagogue, community group, etc.). We believe that the Detention Center, as a publicly-funded entity, should welcome the San Diego community to see how it works and who is inside. If they do not grant your request, write to your congress member and let them know that you are concerned that refugees are being held in prisons without oversight or accountability, and email otayallies@gmail.com.