The Myth of the Border Crisis

Read this New York Times Editorial in which Veronica Escobar, the El Paso County Judge, tries to provide a counterpoint to the hysteria we’re hearing from politicians–Democrat and Republican–about immigration, enforcement, and the current refugee situation on our Southern Border.

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What Can You Do?

We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from the community. We are in need of donations in three areas: supplies, funds, and volunteers; see details below.1042763.large

SUPPLIES

To donate supplies, we ask you first to contact us at 915-545-4509 with your name, phone number, and what specifically you would like to donate. Then, we will set up a specific time with you to receive the donation. This allows us to minimize the time volunteers must spend receiving and storing donations, and lets us direct donations to the locations where they are most needed. Please do not bring donations without arranging a drop-off time and place first. Muchissimas gracias!

We would greatly appreciate the following items:

  1. Food – the entire range of food, but without chile since most Central Americans don’t eat spicy food
  2. Clothing – we especially need new children’s underwear, new women’s underwear (panties and bras, sizes small and medium), socks, inexpensive shoes (especially for children), towels, simple bed sheets
  3. Hygiene – Feminine  items, diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, chapstick, toilet paper,
  4. Toiletries – Shampoo, deodorant, hair brushes
  5. Medical – Over the counter medications (infant, children, adult): acetaminophen, ibuprofen, cold medicine, antacid, rash (calamine) lotion, non-powdered disposable gloves, band-aids
  6. Janitorial – pine cleaner, Ajax powder, bleach, disposable gloves, paper hand towels for bathrooms

 FUNDS

The funds we receive are being used to purchase some bus tickets, provide some families with a small amount of spending money for the bus trip, and to pay for prescriptions, perishable food, cleaning supplies, specific clothing items, and stationery. We also have had to pay for some facility expenses, such as plumbing services and utility fees. You can donate funds in person or by mail, or online here on our website (look for the green ‘Donate Now’ button on the right hand side of the page).

VOLUNTEERS

Our greatest need is for volunteers. We’re looking for extremely responsible, committed, organized and trustworthy people. If you have experience working in one of our houses (or with a similar organization), we could really use you. Even if you don’t live in the border region but are willing to come down for a week or even a few days, we would welcome this help. Spanish proficiency is useful, but not a requirement; we have many areas of responsibility that don’t depend on speaking Spanish. Volunteers are needed to help with the following:

  • Welcome/intake
  • security
  • travel arrangements
  • local transportation
  • food and meals
  • clothing bank
  • care package assembly
  • stocking supplies
  • laundry
  • medical issues
  • legal issues
  • set-up and clean-up

Interested in volunteering? UPDATE AS OF 7/7/2014: there is a (temporary?) lull in releases of additional migrant families, so we are not requesting additional help at this time.

  • Local folks from El Paso area: Please fill out this questionnaire and someone will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
  • Out of towners: please email volunteercoordinator@annunciationhouse.org .
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Our Whirlwind Response to Huge Releases of Migrants

Dear friends and supporters of Annunciation House, you may have read about a recent sharp increase in the number of undocumented Central American migrants being apprehended along the southern Texas-Mexico border. The numbers have so overwhelmed Border Patrol (BP) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) that they have begun to transport immigrants by plane and bus to other cities in the southwest for processing. Because of the lack of detention facilities for families, many of these Central Americans are being released on their own recognizance. At the beginning of June, when BP prepared to send its first planeloads of migrants to El Paso, they reached out to Annunciation House for assistance in providing hospitality to these Central American families after they were released.

Initially, we were asked to arrange hospitality for 270 immigrants who would arrive in El Paso in two planes on Saturday, June 7. We made as much room as we could in our own houses, Annunciation House and Casa Vides, and also reached out to several other local religious organizations for help. From Sunday, June 8, until Tuesday, June 10, all 270 people were gradually released from detention and came to us. About half of them were from Honduras; most of the rest were from El Salvador and Guatemala, along with a few from South America. The families arrived completely destitute, with literally no possessions but the clothes on their backs. They had not showered nor had a clean change of clothes in days—for some of them, it had been two weeks. They were exhausted and emotionally drained. With lots of support from the community, we provided them with meals, showers, fresh changes of clothes, and a safe place to sleep.

Perhaps most importantly, we helped them move on. Every single family had relatives or friends somewhere in the U.S.; in most cases, these circles of family and friends were even able to supply the needed funds to pay for bus fare (or occasionally plane tickets). Volunteers worked with each family to communicate with their relatives and friends, to make travel arrangements, and to journey on to their destinations. By Thursday, June 12, two days after the last families were released, nearly all of them had left El Paso and were reunited with loved ones in different parts of the U.S.

The very next day, June 13, we received word that two more planes would be arriving on June 14 with another 270 people. Based on the experience of the previous week, we quickly searched for additional facilities that would be better suited to the needs of the families we would soon be welcoming (we needed more showers, for example). A local church stepped forward and offered the use of their community center. This was an ideal facility, with a gym, showers, a kitchen, and other useful features. The generosity of the community center staff was incredible and inspiring. They suspended all programs and activities for about a week so that all 270 people on the planes that arrived on Saturday, June 14 could be received and assisted. By Friday, June 20, all 270 of these new arrivals had left El Paso to rejoin friends or family elsewhere.

Now we had a few days’ respite; ICE had notified us that the next plane was expected on Tuesday, June 24. We used this break to search yet again for facilities, since the community center would not be able to suspend all its programs indefinitely. A local community of religious sisters stepped forward to offer an unoccupied wing of their nursing home. Like the community center, it had showers, a kitchen, and all the other resources we needed. It was a good thing we had located a new housing facility so soon, because on Monday, June 23, ICE called to say that a planeload of immigrants was being diverted from California and would arrive that very day, followed by the previously scheduled plane on Tuesday. Soon we were in full swing at the new facility, with newly released families and over 100 volunteers helping out in various capacities throughout the day.

Then the scope of what was happening really hit us. We were notified that another plane would land on Wednesday, followed by another on Thursday, another on Friday, another on Saturday, and another on Sunday. To the best of our knowledge, many of these people (up to 450 of them) are still being held in detention as of this writing. We expect that many or all of them will be brought to us upon release, and we are trying to prepare for yet another whirlwind week of hospitality.

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Vidas Bajo Amenaza

La Casa Anunciacion esta trabajando con una mujer ‘Amparo’ que ha sufrido mucho en su pais natal y en su viaje a los EE.UU. Ella ha permitido que nosotros compartamos su historia (con diferente nombre para protegerla). Puedes ver un video sobre sos experiencias aqui:

http://www.holaciudad.com/vidas-amenaza-parte-1-n440437

y tambien puedes leer su historia escrita aqui.

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2014 Projection Vigil

In honor of all the journalists fallen i n the line of duty…
Between 2004 and 2014 more than 150 journalists haven been killed or disappeared in Mexico simply for reporting on the reality in their country.

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VoV 2014 Forum

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Thursday: Vigil

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Update: Rosa Hilda Carrera released!

Your phone calls, faxes, and letters protesting the unjust detention of Rosa Hilda Carrera have accomplished their purpose. With the help of journalists, attorneys, and countless volunteers, Rosa was released from ICE custody on December 30th, after a year of wrongful detention. She has now been reunited with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas, where she is continuing the legal process to seek protection for herself and her family here in the United States.

Thanks to all for your support.

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Join the International Community in Protesting the Closing of Tutela Legal

Para informacion en espanol, haga click aqui.

This past Monday, the archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, closed the historic institution Tutela Legal, to the surprise not only of its employees but of civil society in general. Tutela Legal, the institution that houses archives of countless cases of human rights violations since the time of Monseñor Romero, has long been a hallmark of the Salvadoran Church, and a place for the consolation and support of the victims of human rights violations. Many of the documents in the care of Tutela Legal were used in the UN Truth Commission after the war, but because of the Amnesty law passed by President Cristiani in 1993, they have not been made available to the public or the Salvadoran court. Among these documents are Rufina Amaya’s testimony about El Mozote, documentation about the Sumpul River massacre, and evidence regarding the assasination of Monseñor Romero. img_3083

Annunciation House has joined other international groups in signing a petition to protest the closing of Tutela Legal and the silencing of its prophetic voice. Do you work with a social justice organization that might also add your support to this petition? Your involvement is greatly needed!

Read a more detailed article here. Or download the petition itself:

International Solidarity Tutela Legal ENGLISH

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Continuing Call to Action

We are still trying to keep the pressure on ICE to release Rosa Hilda Carrera.

Rosa Hilda Carrera Moreno was denied asylum by an Immigration Judge on September 4, 2013 and is appealing the decision. 98 out of every 100 Mexican asylum petitions are denied even though over 120,000 men, women, and children have been killed in Mexico over the past six years, more than have died in Syria. Preparations have also begun to prepare an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court if necessary. Help get Rosa Hilda released on parole.

Please help by faxing Officer Adrian Macias, local ICE Field Office Director of Enforcement & Removal Operations at (915) 225-1809, calling his secretary at (915) 225-0885, or writing him at 1545 Hawkins Blvd., El Paso, TX 79925 and REQUEST that Rosa Carrera- Moreno, A# 205-483-791, be released on humanitarian parole.

Read more about Rosa’s story, and what you can do about it, here (this is a downloadable Word Doc):

ReleaseCampaign-RosaHildaCarrera-2013-OCT-1

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