Help asylum-seeking kids stuck in Tijuana

$101,395 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 1,065 people in 25 days
Created December 22, 2018
"Por que nos matan, por que nos asesinan, si somos la esperanza de America latina" - it translates to "Why do they kill us, why do they murder us, if we are the hope of Latin America"


Children sang this.  While sitting on the sidewalk on US soil asking for asylum.


A group of attorneys, including myself, Christina Brown, Ava Benach, Andrew Free and Ana Pottratz Acosta, went to Tijuana to represent asylum seekers who are being forced to wait in Tijuana because of an illegal "list" ("metering") system being used by the United States and Mexico. The goal of the list is to allow only a small number of asylum seekers into the United States at a time. We were a part of the 17-hour standoffat the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, where we demanded  CBP respect asylum seekers' (including very small children and unaccompanied minors’) right to request asylum. It took CBP 17 hours, 15 lawyers, two members of Congress, and media attention to follow the law and process the 20 asylum seekers, 16 of whom were under the age of 18.


Hundreds of children are waiting in Tijuana, without their parents, to seek asylum in the US.  These are "unaccompanied minors." They are required to live in shelters in Tijuana, and often cannot leave shelter grounds for fear of being caught my Mexican immigration officials and deported to their countries of origin.


These children are told they cannot put their names on the illegal list, which is currently the only way to access the asylum process in the US—and if they attempt to go to the port of entry to claim asylum they are detained by Mexican immigration authorities and returned to the shelter. These policies effectively deny them access to apply for asylum in the United States. We witnessed Mexican officials monitoring ports of entry, and unaccompanied minors—even when accompanied by attorneys—have been detained by Mexican immigration authorities as they approach these ports.


So what does this mean for the children who want to assert their right to ask for asylum in the United States? It means they wait in Mexico, where they are at increased risk of physical danger and face a severe lack of resources. Tijuana is the fifth most dangerous city in the world, and children are particularly vulnerable to organized crime. At the shelters, they have no access to schools, trauma counseling, or mental health counseling, and have limited access to volunteer immigration attorneys.  These children need a tutor, a mental health professional, an immigration attorney, and increased security at the shelter.


Two Honduran teenagers waiting to enter the United States to ask for asylum were murdered in Tijuana last weekend. They would have been in the United States if not for our government’s current anti-asylum policies, which defy domestic and international law. They would have had access to the advantages Congress granted minors in the US immigration system, advantages to which this administration is bent on denying access. By blocking any means they had of asking for asylum, our government is just as culpable for the deaths of those two boys as it is for that of seven-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin. The very least we can do as individuals is support the other unaccompanied children at the shelter who are being forced to wait in Tijuana.


We are raising this money for Al Otro Lado, the US-based organization coordinating support for unaccompanied minors in Tijuana. They will use the money for:


- Christmas presents for the kids in the unaccompanied minor shelters (these have already been purchased but the funds will reimburse those expenses)


- A trauma counselor. These children are dealing with the murder of two of their friends, in addition to the traumas they experienced in their home countries and on their journey to Mexico. They are children. Right now, there are no mental health professionals to help them and that is a critical need.


- A full-time teacher. There are currently no resources to provide these kids any education.  This tutor will work with the kids and provide educational resources while they wait for CBP to stop breaking the law and process them for asylum. These are kids. They should be in school.  


- Enhanced security at the shelter. Given the recent murder of two teenagers staying at the shelter, this is critical. These shelters need cameras, recording systems, staff, upgraded doors, etc.  


- An attorney who specializes in unaccompanied minors, and who can focus on these kids and their specific legal needs.


All of the money will go to fund Al Otro Lado's work and what they deem to be the greatest need.  Because Al Otro Lado is a GoFundMe Certified Charity and this is a charity campaign, your donation is tax-deductible and will be processed by the PayPal Giving Fund.  (Pictures above from Reuters and Al Otro Lado volunteers.)
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Update 4
Posted by Kara Lynum
10 days ago
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Over the last 15 days, almost 800 people have donated $87,000. It's truly stunning what happens when a group of people joins together and stands up for what is right.

We were featured in a story on the local San Diego CBS station: http://www.cbs8.com/story/39728741/lawyers-set-up-gofundme-page-to-help-migrant-caravan-kids

But we have a deadline looming. Because of the way GoFundMe charity campaigns work, Al Otro Lado will get a deposit for all the money we raise by January 16. And right now, we haven't raised it all - so Al Otro Lado would have to choose which needs should be funded.

We don't want them to have to choose. These kids desperately need a teacher, a trauma counselor, a lawyer - and they need enhanced security for their shelter. And right now, we can't afford to do all of that.

Please consider sharing this GoFundMe with your friends and family - we are $13,000 from our goal and we can get there by January 16!

Thank you!

Kara, Anna, Christina and Andrew
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Update 3
Posted by Kara Lynum
16 days ago
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Thank you so much for donating! We are 9 days in and we have raised almost $75,000.

The NBC station in Minneapolis did a story on our fundraiser - it can be found here: https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/breaking-the-news/what-happens-to-kids-seeking-asylum/89-1b13aba8-758e-4019-8865-009449fa1e84

And we know that minors are being turned away at the border as they ask for asylum: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/24/us-unaccompanied-children-turned-back-border#

Please continue to share this fundraiser - this is a group effort and we are all so grateful for your support.

Kara
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Update 2
Posted by Kara Lynum
22 days ago
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Three days in and we have raised $54,000. Thank you again to everyone who has donated and continues to share this GoFundMe with your networks. We won’t raise $100k alone so thank you again for sharing.

Today brought the tragic news that another child died in CBP custody. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/an-8-year-old-migrant-has-died-in-us-custody-on-christmas-day/2018/12/25/b45d387a-0870-11e9-85b6-41c0fe0c5b8f_story.html

Children are particularly vulnerable in our detention system and it’s one of the reasons we want to make sure the children living in the shelters in Tijuana have access to an immigration attorney who can focus on their unique legal needs.

Thank you again! With your help, we will reach our goal to fund these services for Al Otro Lado.
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Update 1
Posted by Kara Lynum
23 days ago
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1
1
Wow! We are on day 2 and we have already raised over $42,000!

Your donations will change lives. Thank you so so much.

Human Rights Watch just put out their report on how these kids are turned away at the border and not allowed to ask for asylum. It's worth a read: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/24/us-unaccompanied-children-turned-back-border#

Please continue to share this campaign with your friends and family - you are truly making a difference.

Thank you. Seriously, thank you.
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$101,395 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 1,065 people in 25 days
Created December 22, 2018
Funds raised will benefit:
AL Otro Lado Inc
Certified Charity
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Los Angeles, CA
EIN: 472910078
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