In 2019 the Cabrini Mission Foundation expanded its work with immigrants by visiting the border city of Laredo, TX and partnering with a shelter which receives immigrants and asylum seekers once they are released from United States detention centers.
It is hard to understand the size of such detention centers. The Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, TX for example, houses an estimated population of over 1,900 detainees.
In July of 2019 the U.S. government, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), began enforcing its new Migrant Protection Protocols, or the “Remain in Mexico” policy under which the U.S. government returns certain asylum-seekers to Mexico to wait through the duration of their pending cases in the U.S. immigration court system.
In short, asylum seekers wait in Mexico without access to family, legal, or social support. As we are told, as of August 2019, over 98 percent of those subject to this policy have not been able to obtain legal representation. Undoubtedly, this will make it more difficult for those subject to the policy to successfully assert their asylum claims and will also risk retraumatizing them in the unsafe conditions in which they are forced to wait.
With word of the impact the “Remain in Mexico” policy is having on the number of people making it to our shelter partner in Laredo, TX, the Cabrini Mission Foundation headed back to the border but this time to McAllen, TX.
Sr. Pietrina Raccuglia, Sr. Yolanda Flores, and Cabrini Mission Foundation Executive Director, Christopher LaBianco met with Sr. Norma Pimentel the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy, Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to discuss the challenges at the border that the new immigration policy poses.
The Foundation provided supplies to make 500 sandwiches and crossed the border in Matamoros, Mexico to aid the migrants in the newly formed tent city at the United States border.
There are an estimated 2,500 people living in tents at the border.
The people are making the best of it. The camp sites were impeccably clean.
The families are resourceful and incredibly optimistic. They have managed to make the tents “home” and have constructed stoves out mud and wood pallets.
In addition to Catholic Charities and the Cabrini Mission Foundation there are a number of philanthropic organizations providing services for the people in Matamoros. But there is still much to be done.
The Cabrini Mission Foundation has received a number of requests for funding to provide for additional needed infrastructure in the area. The Foundation is also seeking partners who are directly providing services in the tent city to ensure a Foundation investment will have the hoped-for community impact.
The Cabrini Mission Foundation looks to send both financial support and volunteers to the Matamoros, Mexico in the coming year.
For more information please feel free to contact Christopher LaBianco, firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212-375-0110.