Attention to Migrants in Ciudad Juarez I
“Nada me importa tanto como la vida humana”
Carlos Quevedue cmf
Founder of “La Casa del Migrante”
On July 29, 2019, the Center of Attention to Migrants San Oscar Romero opened its doors here in Ciudad Juarez amid a humanitarian crisis at the border. Ciudad Juarez is a city on the border with a population of over a million. It is a city of transit, origin, and destiny of millions of migrants in the 21st century.
At the end of 2018, the situation began to change with the arrival of caravans crossing the Mexican territory to solicit asylum in the United States, the arrival of vulnerable populations of women and children, and adolescents, with the establishment of the protocol of “Remain in Mexico”, with the closure of the border in connection with Covid 19 and the expulsion of persons from United States Territory under Title 42.
In 2019 the Casa Migrante, under the direction of the Diocese of Juarez, became insufficient in attending to the needs of migrants due to the limited space and the attention model restricting the amount of time in which migrants could be there.
In a pastoral letter, the Bishops of Mexico appealed for all parishes to open up space. That same year Pope Francis called to bring to life service to migrants with the four verbs: promote, protect, welcome, and integrate. As a result, the city of Juarez opened up the Gymnasium of Bachilleres, and the Federal government of Mexico opened up Albergue Leona Vicaria. Some parishes responded, but all was insufficient, with many left in the streets.
A binational forum convened in October of 2018 with the formation of the Binational Immigration Network. Social Pastoral of Our Lady of Hope Parish on the far south side of the city began organized activities in support of migrants as well as offered support to Casa Migrante, giving humanitarian assistance, alternative medicine, and summer camp activities directed by parish youth. They attended to people at the bridges sleeping in tents as well as those living in abandoned housing. This group served as the foundation for the formation of the Center of Attention to Migrants San Oscar Romero.
Social Pastoral of the Parish of Our Lady of Hope was developing a center of multiple usages. Given the humanitarian crisis, the Commission of Social Pastoral opened this multi-usage center beginning July 29, 2019, to receive migrant families, especially women and children who were subject to be out on the streets. The doors opened with the attendance of over 30 migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. The Shelter began to work in network with other organizations, local, national and binational…..Derechos Humanos Integrales in Action, ACNUR, OIM, IRC, UNICEF, CLINIC, HIAS and COESPO.
The Shelter location within these last three years has shifted with the attention to as many as 90 migrants maximum and an average of 50… from Central America, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, and internally displaced migrants from Mexico. In March 2021, dialogue began with Servicio Jesuitas a Migrantes to strengthen the organization of the pastoral work in service of migrants. Significant accomplishments of the Shelter have been the formation of a coordination team serving as administrator of the operation of the Shelter in a holistic manner that includes an integral approach.
More than 200 families have achieved their goal of entering a process of asylum in the United States with the legal help offered through the center. The approach since the beginning has been integrally embracing all dimensions… education, formation, psycho-social, legal, health, and labor. Children have been given the opportunities for studies and been able to validate their studies as they continue into the United States. The Center of Attention to Migrants San Oscar Romero makes possible wholistic development with a model of attention fitting for the situation here on the border in Juarez. They are giving voice to those without a voice, animating the hearts and actions of the community in support of migrants.
The journey continues, and the work as well here at Center of Attention to Migrants San Oscar Romero de las Americas. Currently, we house approximately 70 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, and Colombia and problematic areas of Mexico like Michoacan and Guerrero. We offer holistic attention… education, formation, psycho-social, health, and legal. The stories continue, identifying their vulnerabilities and creating networks to respond to their needs in collaboration with many organizations with the help of Claretians, organizations like Jesuits Migrant Service, and an array of other organizations working in a transborder experience.
Carlos Quevedue cmf