Last year, a migrant died along the US-Mexico border every sixteen hours.
The desert landscapes of the borderlands are breathtaking and brutal. A few years ago I stood alone there, in the remote isolation of Pima County, Arizona and thought about the people who have to face that terrain on foot, sometimes with their children, always without enough water, only with what they can carry.
Across the border, I visited migrant shelters, orphanages, and soup kitchens, and learned how crucial those places of refuge are for the people they serve. Local communities in the border cities of northern Mexico make extraordinary efforts to welcome and accommodate an ever-changing, extremely vulnerable population of people in transit. The men and women who operate shelters along the migrant trail are doing the work of quietly saving lives every single day, usually without sufficient funds or support. Meanwhile, instead of mobilizing our resources to meet this humanitarian crisis with compassion and urgency, last year the US government implemented the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which compounded the already-grim conditions in the borderlands. People now forced to wait outside the US while courts assess their right to asylum, are subjected to robbery, extortion, kidnapping, trafficking, and even death. All this was happening even before the terrifying additional specter of a global pandemic.
As we all face the global uncertainty of COVID-19, let us not forget the most endangered groups already living frightening, unthinkable realities. I am partnering with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds to help support severely under-resourced programs that offer protection and hope to the men, women, and children waiting in Mexico. I am asking you to join in this effort, as together we can double our impact. I will match every donation made through this fundraiser, up to $100,000, until July 31st. With over 85 years of experience preventing and responding to violence against the most vulnerable populations, the IRC can use your gift to address the immediate, critical needs in Mexico.
In Ciudad Juarez alone, more than 20,000 people are waiting for the US government to decide their fate. Many of them wait without shelter or food, without any support at all. They wait up to sixteen months in our immigration backlog. They wait on the overcrowded streets of border towns, without masks or gloves, soap or water, without a door they can close behind their children to keep them safe. Women and children, especially, wait in terrible danger. In the first quarter of 2019, a woman was murdered every 2.5 hours in Mexico. These are the conditions in which the US government forces vulnerable people to wait.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of current global crises, and to do nothing because we don’t know where to begin. But the simple act of giving — even a small donation — can improve the dire situation in the borderlands. Together we can make a profound and immediate impact.