With Title 42 set to lift this week, migrant aid organizations in El Paso are calling for donations and volunteers to help with the anticipated rise in people crossing the border.
Title 42 is a pandemic-era public health policy that the Trump and Biden administrations have used to expel migrants from certain countries and deny them the legal right to request asylum at the ports of entry. Local officials are expecting the policy to end on Thursday at 9:59 p.m. El Paso time, the same day COVID-19 public health emergency expires.
Mayor Oscar Leeser has asked the public not to donate food or other items to migrants on the streets to discourage them from congregating in public spaces – a message that aid leaders have described as inhumane.
Some migrants have already begun making their way into El Paso without getting processed by border agents, with several hundred people gathering and sleeping on the sidewalks outside Sacred Heart Church and the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in recent weeks. In response, Leeser issued a state of emergency that went into effect on May 1 – the second disaster declaration he’s issued since December when U.S. Border Patrol dropped migrants off on the streets in frigid temperatures. The situation prompted community leaders in El Paso and West Texas to plead with President Joe Biden and U.S. senators for immigration reform measures.
Most migrants hail from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. For many migrants, El Paso is just a temporary stay, so humanitarian organizations and the Catholic Diocese are sheltering and feeding people until they can leave for their intended destination. One faith-based organization, Annunciation House, has also invited an attorney to walk people through the process of applying for asylum.
While biding their time in El Paso, some migrants in El Paso have begun volunteering as a way to give back to the community. Here are ways you can get involved with organizations helping migrants:
This volunteer-led organization provides shelter and support to migrants and refugees. The organization takes monetary donations and is in need of volunteers in particular. Short-term volunteers from outside of town must commit to a minimum of two weeks of service. Local volunteers do not have a minimum time commitment.
Donate or apply to volunteer online.
Sacred Heart Church
The parish in South El Paso El Paso is providing meals and letting people spend the night in its shelter, located south of the Greyhound bus station in Chihuahuita neighborhood. The church is seeking volunteers every day during various morning, afternoon, evening and overnight shifts.
People can sign up to volunteer online. The church’s website also lists needed supplies with drop-off location and times. You can also make a monetary donation via PayPal.
New Life Faith Center
Pastor Timothy Perea and volunteers are providing lunch and water to migrants who are outside Sacred Heart Church. Perea said along with food, basic first aid items and feminine hygiene products would be helpful to hand out.
People can leave a message with Perea at 915-843-5724 to get involved. You can make a donation via CashApp to $newlifefaithcenter1. Perea asks that people indicate “migrant aid” in the donation description and he can provide photos of the purchases made from donations. New Life Faith Center is located 14721 Bocalusa Ave. in far east El Paso.
Keepers Kitchen: Helping Hands
This group of volunteers has served meals and handed out water bottles to migrants camped outside Sacred Heart Church, which has reached capacity. The nonprofit feeds about 600 to 700 people twice a week, but needs donations to keep this up, said group leader Kerry Vogel. People who wish to donate food, time or money can text 909-856-0537. You can also write checks to Keepers Kitchen: Helping Hands, 11416 Ed Merrins Drive, El Paso, Texas 79936.
El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank
El Paso’s food bank needs volunteers to help assemble meals for migrants. The nonprofit is putting together sack lunches to distribute in Downtown El Paso and other locations twice a day. Most volunteer work will take place at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger warehouse in the Lower Valley at 9541 Plaza Circle. Other volunteer work will take place in the streets to distribute meals.
Sign up for a shift online. Those who can’t donate time can donate money.
Border Refugee Assistance Fund
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso and the Hope Border Institute, a faith-based organization, started a fund to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants stuck in limbo in Ciudad Juárez. Mexico’s government has agreed to accept Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan migrants that U.S. immigration officials deport after Title 42 ends.
Visit the Diocese’s website to find out how to donate by check or online.
Hope Border Institute’s health clinic also takes in doctors and medical students who want to volunteer at Leona Vicario, a migrant shelter in Juárez.
Rescue Mission of El Paso
This faith-based charity has more than 200 guests at its homeless shelter and provides an average of 135 meals a day at its outreach center, according to the organization’s website. Donations needed most are:
- Cold and flu medicine for children and adults
- Ibuprofen for children and adults
- Laundry detergent
- Travel-sized toiletries, especially shampoo, body wash and lotion
- Shaving razors
- Walking/tennis shoes, especially for men’s sizes 8-10
- Bath towels
- Food, including meat and dairy products
People can bring or mail donations to 221 N. Lee St. in El Paso. Visit the Rescue Mission’s website if you have additional questions.
Opportunity Center for the Homeless
This nonprofit organization serves people who are experiencing homelessness in El Paso, including migrants. The center in South Central El Paso has run out of space and some 450 migrants set up camp in an alleyway last week. John Martin, the organization’s director, told El Paso Matters that the center was struggling to provide three meals a day and would have to resort to just one meal a day and snacks if more assistance didn’t come through.
Learn more online about how to donate funds or goods.
Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, Inc.
This immigration legal aid clinic serves low-income immigrants and refugees residing in the southwestern United States. The vast majority of clients receive their services for free. You can donate to the organization online.
Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute
Founded by immigration attorney Nancy Oretskin, the nonprofit provides low-cost to free legal services. Oretskin takes pro bono cases herself and has worked with Annunication House to host workshops guiding migrants through the process of requesting asylum. People can send monetary donations to SAMI, 1816 Anita Dr., Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001.
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
Founded in 1987, Las Americas is a nonprofit based in El Paso that provides legal services to low-income immigrants. The team has been in Ciudad Juárez helping migrants register for the asylum process through the CBP One App.
People can donate online, mail a check or make a money order. Details are available on the Las Americas website.
This nonprofit partners with migrant shelters on both sides of the border to assist with most in-demand items. Abara manages a donation warehouse and coordinates deliveries to shelters. Items in high demand include diapers and wipes, baby food and packaged snacks. Make a donation via Amazon Wish List.
Holy Spirit of Hope
This Catholic church in the Lower Valley is providing temporary housing and meals to migrants, as well as transportation to a bus or train station. The church is accepting food donations, preferably packaged or prepared food and drinks to minimize handling, said Pastor Robert Ortega. People can also make a monetary donation online.
Disclosure: El Paso Matters CEO Robert Moore is a board member for El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank. Moore was not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.