Immigration has been a hot topic in the news for months. Amanda Rodriguez, CrossRoads Missions’ Director of Operations for our work in Piedras Negras, Mexico, passed along this information about how the recent influx of immigrants has affected life there.
Piedras Negras is a border town that is situated right across from its neighboring Texas town of Eagle Pass. For years we have witnessed firsthand immigrants crossing through our city with the hope of making better lives for themselves. This year, however, the situation has escalated, and our city has received more immigrants than ever before and expects to receive even more in the near future.
The port of entry into the U.S. in Eagle Pass has now opened an office that is accepting cases for political asylum in the U.S. This has brought us people from all over: Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, and even the Congo. These people usually are fleeing from political and/or religious persecution, as well as violence. The process to get political asylum is done through a waiting list on the Mexico side before getting handed over to the U.S. The applicant’s case is reviewed, and they are ultimately called in for an interview in the U.S. within two weeks to a month. To receive political asylum, the applicant must have proof of persecution. It’s very restricted, and the U.S. follows up with references to make sure the applicant’s story lines up with the facts.
Currently, we have approximately 500 immigrants in our city. There are also four caravans making their way up Mexico totaling as many as 30,000 immigrants. Since Piedras Negras is a border town to the U.S., we expect the arrival of many of these immigrants soon. The city is in the process of preparing itself for this influx and starting a conversation about what it will look like and how we will take action to care for everyone.
CrossRoads Mexico has narrowed in on one ministry, in particular, that is specifically helping immigrants with political asylum cases. Torre de Refugio (”Tower of Refuge”) is one of two churches acting as immigrant shelters in our city, housing those who are on a waiting list for political asylum interviews. They house up to 25 people at a time, and they wait there anywhere from two weeks to a month before being called to their interview.
If you or anyone you know are interested in helping out, please stay tuned! The city may be in need of a lot of rice and beans, basic toiletries, and clothing items very soon. Right now the shelter we work with can use basic food and toiletry items, Walmart gift cards to purchase items, or cash donations to help pay for utilities.
Below is a first-hand experience as told by Judy, our field director (names have been changed to protect identity):
I met Jessica (mom) and Lisa (8) one evening at the immigration house after meeting three of the young men that protected them as they traveled across the country. Somehow they had found our ranch and when I went out to meet them they begged me to go get the girls and bring them out to the ranch. They had been afraid to take them to a “ranch” for fear of cartel activity. Jessica and Lisa are Honduran as well as two of the men; the third was Guatemalan. When I picked them up I asked if they would like to stay at my house. It was getting cold and the ranch is very primitive. No water and no electricity. They were hesitant but only for a couple of minutes. I got them settled in our guest room and we cooked supper together for us and for the five men at the ranch.
Jessica and Lisa were placed in the political asylum list and stayed with me for 17 days till their turn came up. She helped me with two CR groups in the kitchen and kept my house spotless out of gratefulness. She and Lisa loved to sing and pray and couldn’t believe we only met twice a week as a congregation. They had services every night in their little “no electricity town” up in the mountains. Only the church had lights at night thanks to solar panels. They fled Honduras because of violence.
We believe she was given asylum in the U.S. but the family member that had promised to pick her up did not and we have lost all communication with them. She was a precious friend for 17 days and hope to hear that she is safe.
Donations of supplies can be sent to:
2014 – C E. Main Street
Eagle Pass, TX 78852
Any monetary donations can be made through the CrossRoads’ online giving setup; just specify the Mexico field and include a note that it’s intended for the immigrant relief fund.