El Paso bishop launches fundraiser for asylum seekers stuck in Mexico

El Paso, Texas, Jul 31, 2019 / 12:25 am (CNA).- A Catholic diocese has teamed up with a local immigration aid group to help refugees on the western Texas-Mexico border.

The Catholic Diocese of El Paso and the HOPE Border Institute introduced a new Go-Fund-Me drive on Monday.

Entitled the “Border Refugee Assistance Fund,” it will work to provide material aid to refugees and immigrants seeking asylum, especially from Central America.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration unveiled a “Remain in Mexico” policy requiring asylum seekers at the southern border to remain in Mexico while immigration courts process their case – a procedure that may take years.

Since the policy was put in place, thousands have been stuck in Ciudad Juárez, which is located on the Mexico side of the border from El Paso. Numerous non-profit and faith-based organizations have offered aid, but faith leaders and immigration advocates have expressed concern that resources are still lacking.

“Because of policies like Remain in Mexico, our sister cities in Mexico face the unprecedented challenge of meeting the basic humanitarian needs of refugees forced to remain in that country as they make their asylum claims,” stated the Go-Fund-Me profile.

Within 24 hours, the account had already raised over $8,000, with a goal of $100,000. The money will go to help feed, clothe, and shelter asylum seekers and refugees in Ciudad Juárez.

“The need in Juarez is tremendous,” said Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, according to ABC 7 KVIA.

“Churches and community-led initiatives there are doing everything possible to feed, clothe and offer shelter to thousands of migrant families fleeing desperate conditions and looking for safety and refuge. Here we have a real opportunity to serve Christ in the migrant,” he said.

Since 2015, HOPE has supported refugees in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez with educational resources, advocacy, and material aid.

Dylan Corbett, the executive director of HOPE, said this new fund will make a practical difference.

“Faith communities and individuals across the country have asked how they can help at the border and this is a concrete way to make a difference in the lives of migrant families in need,” he said, according to the El Paso Herald Post.

In May, the HOPE Border Institute and other faith leaders issued a letter to Kevin McAleenan, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The letter highlighted the humanitarian concerns surrounding the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Since the implementation of this policy in the El Paso Sector, we have witnessed how Remain in Mexico has returned vulnerable individuals and families seeking asylum to Ciudad Juárez, sharply limiting their access to counsel and putting them at serious risk of further harm as they wait for their case to be processed in the United States,” reads the May 8 letter.

The letter said that the overpopulation of Ciudad Juárez has strained the resources set aside for these refugees. Among other concerns, immigrants do not have access to shelters, which are seriously overcrowded, and are at risk from the local instability and violence.

Recently, HOPE and other immigration advocates have asked the government to build a permanent processing facility to help address humanitarian concerns, including the deaths of migrants and their children at makeshift facilities. A second letter was also sent to McAleenan in June.

“We call on the federal government and the local elected leaders to act now to ensure that the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers coming to our border are ensured, that human life is protected… and that the government fulfills its responsibility to process migrants in safe and sanitary conditions,” reads the letter.

 

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