We can’t show you this family’s faces. It’s too dangerous. But Lety and her partner, José, are Central Americans who came to the border after five weeks of hard traveling with their preschool-age daughters, Paty and Gloria. When they finally got here, the family went to a port of entry at El Paso, Texas to ask for asylum.
But our government wouldn’t let them pass. And now they’re stuck in Ciudad Juarez, a very dangerous Mexican border city. They’re stuck because a new US program, the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, sends asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait for court hearings in the US that often are scheduled for weeks or months later.
It’s 100 degrees out these days and the family is living in a church shelter, in a small room without air conditioning. All over Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, migrants are being robbed, kidnapped for ransom, raped, and murdered. Jose and Lety are laying low. They’re trying hard to survive so that every two months they can be crossed back to El Paso to attend their court hearings.
They have no lawyer. There are almost none in El Paso who will cross to Juarez. But Lety and José are determined to do everything they can to win asylum. They desperately need it—they fled Central America after Lety, a professional athlete, fouled an opponent. Unknown to Lety, her competitor had a brother who leads a vicious gang in Lety’s home town.
The gang vowed to murder Lety, Jose, and both of the little girls. They kidnapped Lety, beat Jose with a bat, and trashed the family’s home. Even the police advised the family to flee the country.
Thousands of people fleeing Central America have stories like this, and thousands are now stuck in dangerous Mexican border towns because of the cruel and potentially deadly Migrant Protection Protocols.
Lety, Jose, and the kids are smart and upbeat. A group of people on both sides of the border are organizing to help them survive in Juarez and work on their asylum claim.
We are some of that group. We are helping this family because we have become their friends and cannot walk away.
We are helping because giving humanitarian aid to people like Lety, José, Paty, and Gloria is modest but precious resistance to the horrors that Trump is unleashing on immigrants.
We’re starting a fund first for this young mother, father and their little girls. We hope to expand it to help other stranded refugee individuals and families we meet in Juarez.
These folks need money for food, rent, medicine, and bus fare to apply for jobs. They need resources to get documents notarized for their asylum cases. They need to go to downtown Juarez to meet with volunteers who can translate those documents.
They need an ice cream cone every once in a while for their kids. They even need to pay to enroll the children in school. (Yes, public school. You have to pay an enrollment fee in Mexico. You have to pay for uniforms. You often have to pay “tips” to the teachers. This is not America.)
Can you help? Your contribution will be carried to Juarez and distributed to people we have met and have ongoing relationships with. They do not want charity. They are desperate for jobs. They are desperate to be able to work on their US asylum cases.
They are desperate to know that we care. They merit our love and we need theirs.