Last week I went to Mexico City and met with migrants from the caravans. I met mothers carrying small children. A teenager who had walked hundreds of miles with a painful limp. A recently deported Dreamer. A trans woman seeking safety. Men looking for work to sustain aging parents.
Their feet were blistered. They were hungry. They had experienced violence on the road. Some were sick. But they had no thought of going back. And that speaks to the unbearable violence and extreme poverty they were leaving. As we talked, many referenced Exodus – the story of a people fleeing persecution, sustained by profound faith.
AFSC has established relationships with nine shelters and several church and nonprofit partners serving migrants in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. We are helping them meet basic needs such as food, water, and clothing. We are also supporting humanitarian relief volunteers and providing supplies for children.
I heard from migrants who faced tear gas, rubber bullets, and harassment on their journey – and who said they were treated better when human rights monitors were present. In response we are establishing a human rights brigade at the Guatemala-Mexico border with regional partners. We are also continuing our long-standing human rights monitoring at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Migrant after migrant asked me, “What would it take to change Trump’s heart?” I wish I knew. But we aren’t waiting. AFSC is mobilizing our extensive network of partners, including other faith leaders, to organize actions at the border and across the country in the coming weeks. We are calling on the U.S. government to respect the human right to migrate and seek asylum, to stop detaining and deporting immigrants, to stop efforts to implement indefinite detention, and to meet migrants with welcome and support, not troops and walls.
The people I met need our help and solidarity.
That’s why I hope you will consider a special gift today to support the people of the migrant caravan who are fleeing violence and poverty. Thank you for helping us work for a world where everyone can live in safety and peace.