El Paso, Texas — El Paso and other border towns have been helping refugees find safe temporary residence and assisting with basic living needs for years. Recent actions by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have dramatically increased the stress on organizations providing refugee assistance. The Green Party of El Paso County assesses this to be a critical situation for the community and immediate action by the US government is needed to avoid further deterioration.
Refugee Relief Efforts: The Untold Story
For decades, the responsibility for assisting refugees and coordinating their journey through the borderlands has largely fallen on non-profit organizations such as Annunciation House that take in refugees after they are processed by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Until this past October, CBP has coordinated with community leaders, such as Ruben Garcia director of Annunciation House, to efficiently find shelter for released migrants.
Since October 2018, a new policy has apparently taken hold where ICE will “dump” tens or hundreds of refugees outside bus stations. In many cases, these people, some with young children, have no money. Shelter directors are not being contacted ahead of time but are left to find out about the needs through word of mouth. It is astonishing that the US government would “dump” hundreds of people on the streets who have no resources to take care of even very basic needs.
In addition to the need for better coordination between ICE and community shelters, there is also a need for more resources. At this time, hospitality facilities such as those provided by Annunciation House are overwhelmed. Volunteers are exhausted. Donations of time and money are greatly needed. The people of El Paso have responded generously, but more is needed.
Emergency Actions are Needed
In light of the current crisis at the border, the Green Party of El Paso County calls for the following emergency actions from ICE, the President, and the US Congress:
- ICE must immediately stop dumping refugees on the street and must coordinate with facilitators like Ruben Garcia to determine what is needed to continue sheltering refugees.
- ICE should fund these facilitators, no strings attached, in order to continue their community mission, as they have successfully helped refugees for years.
- ICE must make CBP facilities where refugees are detained more livable.
- The President must convene a special session of Congress to tackle the immigration problem. This needs to happen NOW!
- Congress and the President must stop US interference in other nations that exacerbates refugee situations. For example, as recently as 2009, the US supported a coup in Honduras that eliminated an elected President who was improving the country.
- Congress and the President must bring US forces home from Central American countries.
- Congress and the President must support democracy in Central America and assist nations in which the government has been fairly selected in a way the citizens want, with no strings attached.