Call to Action: Solidarity at the U.S./Mexico Border

Synopsis

Approximately 6,000 men, women and children from Central America have recently arrived in Tijuana, Baja California, just 25 miles south of the University of San Diego campus. Many of these individuals are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries where it is often difficult to live safely with dignity. Many have made the 2,300 mile journey, largely by foot, to the U.S./Mexico border in hopes of turning themselves in to authorities in order to apply for asylum, a legal status that can be granted to individuals who have credible fear of returning to their home countries.

Fortunately, the migrants are receiving some support from private citizens, churches and nonprofit organizations from both sides of the border, but most continue to live outside or in temporary shelters, often in harsh conditions. At its peak, the first temporary shelter hosted more than double its capacity. That facility was uncovered and therefore significantly impacted by last week’s rainfall. Medical professionals were and remain concerned about sanitation as well as the risk of serious illnesses. In light of the overcrowding, the rain and the impending arrival of more migrant families, a second shelter was opened over the weekend.

Colleagues from USD’s Mulvaney Center and Trans-Border Institute have been on the ground in Tijuana since last week providing support to our community partners and delivering critical supplies to the migrants.

How Best to Offer Your Support

Many have asked how they can help. According to those most involved and informed, the best way to assist is to donate money which can be used to purchase food and other supplies as well as provide housing to the migrants. Beyond cash, the most urgent needs are for blankets, sleeping bags or mats and tents. If you would like to donate those items, you may do so by dropping them off in Maher #218, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Monday - Friday.

Other in-kind donations (such as winter clothes, bottled water, diapers, feminine hygiene products, etc.) are often difficult to utilize effectively. There are limitations and complications in transporting such items across the border; customs regulations and costs make this time consuming and uncertain. Additionally, such donations are often taxing for community partners to receive and to channel to the appropriate parties. Thus, we are focusing our efforts on monetary donations which can be used efficiently by organizations on the ground most familiar with the most pressing needs.

The collection at the Sunday night masses on campus during the month of December will be dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to those in need. If you would like to contribute to those efforts, you may bring your donation to the University Ministry Office (UC 238) between 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday - Friday.

Additionally, you may donate to other relief efforts being undertaken by USD community partners. These include Espacio Migrante (please click here to donate). If you would like your donation to support the work of lawyers providing legal support to asylum seekers in Tijuana, please consider contributing to the work of Al Otro Lado (please click here to donate). Finally, the San Eugenio parish community in Tijuana, with whom USD has a long and deep relationship, is working to host and support 14 families from Honduras. If you’d like to support their efforts, led by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, please click here.

Other ways to help:

Another option is the active accompaniment of migrant families.  Through this model, facilitated by the Trans-Border Institute, groups of USD community members can be paired directly with migrant families, getting to know their journeys and stories, and striving to meet the needs those families identify as most critical.  If you are interested in learning more about this approach, please contact Dr. Ev Meade at emeade@sandiego.edu.

There is also a significant need to support Asylum Seekers in San Diego. Asylum Seekers are being released from detention in San Diego on a daily basis with little to no orientation or support. A shelter has been set up to provide basic humanitarian assistance and services. Volunteers are needed to assist with tasks including: intake, escorting guests, cleaning, serving food, serving as interpreters and assisting with child care are needed at the shelter on a daily basis. If you are interested and available to assist, please contact Beyond Borders Student Leader Josefina Jaramillo at jjaramillo@sandiego.edu.

Image of a young person at the U.S./Mexico border.

Related Events

Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass and Celebration
Sunday, Dec. 9, Dinner starts at 4:30 p.m.
UC Forums, Torero Way, The Immaculata

During this annual USD tradition, special attention will be devoted to the current reality at the border.  Professor Victor Carmona from Theology and Religious Studies will offer a reflection on how the story of Guadalupe is relevant to today’s crisis on the border. The collection at this Mass (as well as at each Sunday night Mass for the remainder of the semester), will be used to provide humanitarian assistance to the migrants in Tijuana.

DACA: Life in the In-between
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
UFMC (SLP 418)

Join us and listen to your fellow peers talk about what it’s like to be a DACA student at USD.  Co-sponsored by the DACAlliance, Mulvaney Center, United Front Multicultural Commons and Women’s Commons.

Border Solidarity Vigil: Renewing the Call to Welcome the Stranger
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m.
Paseo de Colachis Lawn

All are welcome to this candlelight prayer vigil. This is a space for reflection, for healing and to collectively lift up prayers for all those suffering on both sides of the border. Poems, quotes, bible passages and verses from other sacred texts will also be shared to underscore our call as people of faith to honor the human dignity of every person, regardless of national origin, recognizing that Jesus himself was a migrant. The vigil will be immediately followed by the Mass for Peace at 9 p.m. in Founders Chapel, which will focus on the migrants in Tijuana.

Call to Action: Teach-In on the Migrant Caravan in Tijuana
Thursday, Dec. 13, 12:15 - 2 p.m.
UC Forums A and B

How can we best support the human needs and defend the human rights of the individuals and families who make up the caravan? What’s the proper role for a university when facing such a crisis? What are the most effective and ethical ways to give? How can you get involved as an individual, a student organization, a department or a school?

Please join for a teach-in led by Dr. Victor Carmona (Theology and Religious Studies), Dr. Ev Meade (Trans-Border Institute), María Silva (Mulvaney Center for Community Engagement) and Dr. Greg Prieto (Sociology). We will share the latest information about the caravan and take questions about the broader context. Most important, we will update you on the amazing work that colleagues and organizations across campus have undertaken with our community partners, and how you can get involved.

Posada sin Fronteras
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2 - 4 p.m.
Border Field State Park (Friendship Park)
See press release (PDF)

Join the binational community in the 25th annual celebration of the Binational Posada. The Mexican Posada tradition comes at a unique time of need for hospitality in the border region. This festive Christmas Service will take place on both sides of San Diego/Tijuana Friendship Park. If you are interested in attending with a group from USD, please click here.