A poem from the caravan: “We are the hope for a better world”

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Luis is 19 years old.  He fled El Salvador with the caravan of migrants who arrived in San Diego last May. He was driven out of his home country by gang violence, including violence targeted at LGBTI people.  Before he fled, he was studying to be an accountant.

I want the world to know that

Migrants are

The hope of our families

The hope of our countries

The hope for a better society

The hope for a better world

We are the hope that won’t stop shining

We are the light that won’t go out

We are strong in our journey and most of all our lives

And we are not what President Trump believes us to be.

NEW: Preparing for the caravan

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A caravan of refugees from Honduras is now reaching the Tijuana/San Diego border.  The Government of Baja California has created a temporary shelter at Deportivo Stadium Juarez with capacity for 2300.  As of 11/16, the government estimates:

  • There are three caravans.  The first numbers 6,628 people, of whom 2,679 migrants have arrived in Tijuana–including about 420 children.
  • The second and third are comprised of 3,036 people.
  • 9,664 people total are expected.
  • Authorities estimate that people could be waiting 1 year or more in Tijuana for their turn to seek asylum. Customs and Border Patrol is accepting only 10 – 100 asylum seekers per day.
  • The government shelter is already full, and families are sleeping in the streets.
  • Border closures and the stressors of having 9,000 new residents in an underresourced city are generating among some Mexican citizens resentment and hostility towards caravaners.

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 help. You 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.

5.  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.

6.  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.

7. 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


8.  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.