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Palomas 2020

As part of our UU Social Justice work we have chosen to support the migrant shelter, Tierra del Oro, in Palomas, Mexico, less than 2 hours south of Silver City. What started as a small shelter for asylum seekers waiting to head north, has become a transit stop that ICE and the Border Patrol use to expel 100+ detainees every night. These guests at the shelter may only stay 2-3 days but most are in dire need of food, sleep and first aid before they decide where to go next. At our UU building we have a weekly collection of supplies for the shelter every Wednesday afternoon. These supplies are transported to Deming, NM and then sent across the border by officially sanctioned individuals. You can read below the last three weekly posts with updated information on the shelter as well as the current needs for the migrants. If you would like to personally receive these posts, or volunteer to help with the collections or driving to Deming, contact Barbara Gabioud at bgabioud@gmail.com.

 Additional note to our UU listserv: If you would like to help us on a collection Wednesday or be a driver to Deming, please let me know.  The generosity of our community will warm your heart. 

Note:  Driven by the hope for a better future, many migrants who are being expelled from the US will continue to try to re-enter, regardless of the dangers and hardships they face.


 10/25/2020

The shelter continues to need BOTTLED WATER because of the high number of migrants who are just passing through. And because most of them are expelled in the middle of the night they now need COFFEE, SUGAR, DISPOSABLE COFFEE CUPS and SPOONS. Most important is warm outerwear in medium and small adult sizes (NO other clothing!); clean JACKETS, SOCKS, HATS and GLOVES; Men’s new UNDERWEAR, and BLANKETS. And of course, BELTS and neutral colored 40-45” SHOELACES (not bright or neon colors that could be seen at night or target them for the cartels). Details for drop off are below.

 If you have contributed financially your money has been paying for construction of a special handicapped accessible room and bathroom, 100 washable plates and bowls (now that there’s hot water!) as well as the food and supplies bought locally in Palomas. COVID is on the rise in Mexico and both Juarez and Palomas have a Code Orange in place. The shelter is being very cautious to keep the asylum seekers safe.
As you surely heard reported earlier this week, there are still 545 children in US custody who have not been reunited with their parents. So much of our immigration system is broken and has been for a long time. If you are interested, here is a link to VP Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan http://www.joebiden.com/immigration/#. It will takes years to accomplish.
 
 Bring your donations on Wednesdays, 3:00-3:30, to the UUFSC building, 3845 N Swan (not our mailing address) in Silver City. You will be directed to drive straight down on either side of our delivery vehicles. We will help you unload and then you can drive out easily. If you need to speak with anyone, look for one of us with our UU name tags on. The WE BELIEVE signs will be available also. Please wear a mask.

 

10/18/2020

These are the stories of two very real people caught in the very real nightmare at the intersection of COVID and the border. After the stories you will find the weekly update of what donations are needed. Please note that BOTTLED WATER is back on the list.

Hopeful Endurance - Two stories from south of the Border by Suzanne Dulle

These are the stories of Carmen and Pedro, (not their real names) as told to me during a visit with them at the “Red de Albergues para Migrantes” (Migrant Shelter) in Puerto de Palomas, Chihuahua, MX, on October 6, 2020.

     I noticed Carmen sitting on a chair in front of the outdoor baños. There was shade there, welcomed during the 93+ F heat of high noon along the US-Mexico border. I could see in her eyes that her mask was concealing a smile. Encouraged, I decided to introduce myself and sit down with her for a visit. 

     Carmen is from Guatemala. Her grown children still live there. With the expectation of joining some of her extended family in Houston, Texas, Carmen made the decision to leave her country, and the violence and dangers that surrounded her there.  After many days of travelling north through Mexico, she arrived in Agua Prieta, Sonora, just south of the US border at Douglas, AZ. From there, she departed on foot in an attempt to enter into the US. Although she was with a group of other migrants, she walked without friends or family members. Carmen was courageously alone.

     For 8 days, she walked through desert and mountains, finally arriving in the southern New Mexico desert. Exhausted, she fell, striking a rock and suffering a debilitating injury to her tailbone. Unable to continue her journey, Carmen was abandoned by her fellow travelers.  She had no food. She had no water. Now totally alone, for two days and two nights, she waited. She prayed. She listened in fear to the yapping of the coyotes. After calling out repeatedly for help, Carmen was picked up and arrested by Customs and Border Patrol agents. Immediately, she was sent back into Mexico at the Palomas Border crossing.

      She has been at the shelter for a few days now, and reports that she is feeling “much better” than when she arrived.” She made light of an ugly blister on the side of her left foot, and said that “it is healing.” She told me about the previous swelling in both her legs, which are “so much better.” She reported that she has been treated in Ascención for the injury to her tailbone, that still gives her a lot of pain.  I asked her what she will do now.  She told me that she will stay at the shelter for awhile, so that her body can continue to heal. And after that? “I don’t know,” she whispered. “I pray that God will open some doors for me. I pray for that every day.”

     Not far away, a young man was sitting outside a shelter tent, on a concrete block. While chatting with another man and talking from time to time into his friend’s cell phone, he seemed to be very pre-occupied. He was dressed in what appeared to be blue medical “scrub” pants, and his leather boots were shoelace-less and caked with mud and grime.   Eventually, he noticed Carmen and me and our conversation, and soon he joined in.

     We learned that Pedro is from El Salvador. His father still lives there, but he made the decision to come to the US in search of a better life and more opportunities for himself.  After crossing through Guatemala, he traveled north for a month through Mexico, where the “ladrones” stole everything of value that he had with him, including his cell phone. “They took everything.”

     When he arrived to the US-Mexico border south of El Paso, he and his companion made their way through a swampy area, (most likely along the Rio Grande.) They became stuck in “quick sand,” and were unable to extricate themselves, sinking only deeper, the more they struggled.  For two days, they were trapped in the mud. Finally, he and his friend were picked up by Border Patrol agents and arrested. Just this morning, he was dropped at the border crossing in Palomas, and showed up here at the Shelter. 

     Pedro pulled up the blue pant legs to better show me his boots, cracked and covered with dried mud. Indeed, they showed the signs of having been in water for a very long time. From a small nylon bag at his side, he pulled out a belt-less pair of tattered jeans, similarly caked in mud and grime. But in reply to Carmen’s suggestion that he “throw the pants away,” he replied that no, he was going to wash them.

     After a few minutes of silence, during which time I struggled to keep my composure and process everything that I had just heard, I asked Pedro and Carmen what I could do for them. “¿Que puedo hacer para ustedes?” I asked, with tears in my eyes. With a quick smile, Pedro responded, “¡Puedes adoptarnos!” “You can adopt us!”

     I bade them goodbye and wished them “¡Buena suerte!” In spite of the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, I reached out and squeezed Carmen’s hand, promising that I would try to see her again on my next visit.  Pedro re-dedicated himself to calls on the cell phone, but waved a friendly good-bye.

     Shortly thereafter, I noticed Pedro grab his small nylon bag, and hurry toward the gate in the concertina-crowned chain link fence that surrounds the shelter.  He stopped to say something to Alejandro, (the volunteer manger of the shelter, himself an asylum seeker from Cuba,) who immediately opened the gate for him. I watched Pedro walk into the street, clad in his blue “scrub” pants, still wearing the shabby and filthy shoelace-less boots, clutching the small bag that contained his mud-caked jeans.        

     And then, … he disappeared.  Later, I asked Alejandro why Pedro had left so quickly?  “His family is coming to pick him up in a car. I cautioned him to be careful.”

Much of the needed food for the shelter is being bought in Palomas but your donations of NOODLE SOUPS and VIENNA SAUSAGES (as well as everything else) are deeply appreciated. Most importantly, stay on the lookout for warm outerwear in medium and small adult sizes (no other clothing); JACKETS, COATS, HOODIES, SWEATERS, SWEATSHIRTS, SOCKS, HATS and GLOVES. Thrift stores and neighbors’ closets are ideal sources! Also save SHOELACES and BELTS.

Bring your donations (including items you have bought from other lists I have sent) on Wednesdays, 3:00-3:30, to the UUFSC building, 3845 N Swan (not our mailing address) in Silver City. You will be directed to drive straight down on either side of our delivery vehicles. We will help you unload and then you can drive out easily. If you need to speak with anyone, look for one of us with our UU name tags on. The WE BELIEVE signs will be available also. Please wear a mask

Note:  Driven by the hope for a better future, many migrants who are being expelled from the US will continue to try to re-enter, regardless of the dangers and hardships they face.


 10/12/2020

Last Sunday I included a photo from the No More Deaths website. The very next day, "after sunset, in a massive show of armed force, Border Patrol, along with the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), descended on one of No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid stations in Arizona with an armored tank, ATVs, a helicopter, and many marked and unmarked vehicles. Agents, armed with assault rifles, chased and terrorized those who were receiving care, all while the helicopter hovered low above them kicking up dust and debris, making it nearly impossible to see. Border Patrol smashed windows, broke doors, and destroyed essential camp infrastructure as well as supplies. Volunteers were held for 3 hours while 12 people who were receiving medical care, food, water and shelter from the 100+ degree heat were apprehended."

While perhaps not captured in situations quite as horrific, these are the same migrants who find themselves in Palomas, after sunset…in the middle of the night. Severe injuries among them are becoming more and more common such that the next project we are supporting at Tierra de Oro shelter is to renovate a separate room with a hospital bed and handicapped accessible bathroom fixtures. We have located a hospital bed, but if you are local, and know of another available bed, please let me know. There are other shelters in need also.

One of our donors shared this with me, saying it has remained one of his core beliefs over the decades.
"If something needs to be done, And in the end it is not done,
Then you and I Are among those Who did not do it.”
We are all trying very hard to get things done!

Much of the needed food for the shelter is being bought in Palomas but your donations of NOODLE SOUPS and VIENNA SAUSAGES (as well as everything else) are deeply appreciated. Most importantly, stay on the lookout for warm outerwear in medium and small adult sizes (no other clothing); JACKETS, COATS, HOODIES, SWEATERS, SWEATSHIRTS, SOCKS, HATS and GLOVES. Thrift stores and neighbors’ closets are ideal sources! Also save SHOELACES and BELTS.

Bring your donations (including items you have bought from other lists I have sent) on Wednesdays, 3:00-3:30, to the UUFSC building, 3845 N Swan (not our mailing address) in Silver City. You will be directed to drive straight down on either side of our delivery vehicles. We will help you unload and then you can drive out easily. If you need to speak with anyone, look for one of us with our UU name tags on. The WE BELIEVE signs will be available also. Please wear a mask

 To contribute financially you can mail checks made out to UUFSC (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Silver City) with Border in the memo line to UUFSC, PO Box 4034, Silver City, NM 88062. With gratitude ~Barbara

 https://www.borderreport.com/hot-topics/immigration/border-towns-struggle-with-the-thousands-of-migrants-immediately-deported-under-cdc-order/


 

 





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