Refugee Numbers Down; Short-Term Volunteers Not Currently Needed

Update on our efforts to provide short-term hospitality to refugee families released in El Paso by ICE: at this time, we do not need (and are not accepting) short-term volunteers (people available for less than three six* months).

*(edited 10/23/19 to reflect continuing decreases in the number of guests)

Year-long volunteers and local El Paso community volunteers are always encouraged to apply!

Background: On Sept. 23, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced that ICE would no longer be releasing refugee families from detention as they await further processing of their immigration, asylum, or deportation cases. Instead, if families are deemed to have no fear of returning to their home countries, they will be immediately deported; if they qualify for the asylum process, they will be sent to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols.

Since this announcement, the release of refugees from ICE and Border Patrol facilities to our houses of hospitality has decreased dramatically. Although it has not stopped completely, we are now capable of receiving and caring for the guests that do arrive with the volunteers we already have on hand. As such, we are currently suspending acceptance of any more short-term volunteers (people coming for three months or less).

What about Juarez? You may be asking, if people are being returned to Mexico to wait out their asylum proceedings, isn’t help needed there? A partial answer is that although there are many refugees currently waiting in Juarez, the numbers being returned to Juarez through MPP are also down sharply, perhaps reflecting that fewer Central Americans and Mexicans are making the journey north in the first place. At this time, Annunciation House is still trying to figure out how to work with Juarense organizations and groups to best support migrants there, but we are not formally placing volunteers in Juarez.

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