One week after the election that put an anti-immigrant demagogue into power, we at Annunciation House are searching for ways to move from grief and outrage toward action–or, perhaps more accurately, to channel our outrage into action. For us, the action is concrete, and we return to it daily: instead of a wall along our southern border, we are building centers of welcome and hospitality for the many, many migrants and refugees that continue to arrive in El Paso.
Many of them are Central Americans and Mexicans fleeing violence and extortion in their home countries, often after having lost loved ones at the hands of gangs. Others are here to work, to support their families–acting as the silent engines that power so many of our country’s industries, from agriculture to construction to home health care. They are not terrorists. (Foreign terrorists usually have the resources to get a visa.) They are not rapists or criminals. (Immigrants commit fewer crimes than US citizens.) Here they must exist in the shadows, doing dirty and difficult work, facing discrimination, alienation, and the constant fear of deportation, which in many cases breaks up families. Yet they have come to the US, at great risk, great expense, and with great effort, in most cases because the conditions they are leaving are worse and more desperate than the ones they will encounter here.
In 2014, a so-called “surge” of Central American migrants arriving at our southern border prompted a frenzy of media attention. That has largely subsided today, yet crowds of people continue to arrive, many of them families with children. Annunciation House is still receiving hundreds of people each week, most of them coming straight from the detention centers where they have been “processed” and released. Most come with little but the clothes on their backs–not even shoelaces, which are confiscated in detention.
Are you feeling hopeless after the election? Do you want to do something, but you don’t know what? If you believe in a more just immigration system, if you want to show your support for immigrants and refugees, consider getting involved with the work of Annunciation House and other similar organizations that directly serve migrants–both through hospitality and advocacy.
How? Here are some ideas:
- VOLUNTEER. If you have some Spanish ability, and especially if you have any volunteer experience and/or live in the El Paso area, consider volunteering: we can use full-time volunteers who are willing to come for a week or more, or local volunteers who can donate a few hours a week on an ongoing basis.
- DONATE. We are in need of new (please, only new) underwear for all ages and genders; shoelaces; travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc); and quart and gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Financial donations are also much appreciated (info here).
- SPREAD THE WORD. Not just about our work and our needs–though we fully appreciate that–but about the humanity of immigrants, documented or not; the injustice of our current immigration system; and about our opposition to the racist, anti-immigrant climate that has swept up so many in our nation.
The political campaigns are over. The campaign for justice continues. To our country’s immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, Muslims, and all who fear what this election’s results mean for their own safety and well-being: #EstamosConUstedes.