This is Jill. She is a native Texan, the mom of four kids, a recent full-time RVer, and a caring storyteller using her digital platform to help others.
Like so many of us, Jill was horrified when she read articles about the refugee crisis at the border detailing chaos, sickness and filth in overcrowded facilities. And like so many others, she wanted to help. When she learned that Border Patrol was not accepting donations for the children and families held in substandard conditions, she kicked into high gear to find out where and how she COULD get donations directly to asylum-seeking families.
She pulled in two friends, Laura and Meredith, and they visited organizations on the ground in Del Rio and San Antonio to find out how best people could help.
Jill connected with the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio, which transitions refugees after they have been released from federal custody and can get needed items directly to the people who need them most. When they told her that they most needed supplies and volunteers, she spread the word about their Amazon wish list. Within the next few days, truckloads of donations started appearing at the VVBHC.
The three also visited the San Antonio Migrant Resource Center, which helps 100 to 500 refugees per day. They learned that this center is usually the last stop before people go by bus or plane to their host cities (very often where family live) across the country, where they wait for their asylum trials. Many of them come to this facility from Del Rio and other border towns.
"No matter how you feel about why these people are at our border, they’re here," says Jill. "If we choose to ignore them, nothing changes. They face massive challenges after the trauma that has already sparked their journey. But if we choose to do even 'small' things, if we welcome them with kindness and love, if we show them that we see them as humans, worthy of feeling clean and worthy of being fed- well, I personally feel like that could change a whole lot."
“The way these donations have been working and helping these people is something I don’t think I can accurately describe,” says Jill, “but seeing anger and sadness and all these other feelings we’ve all been feeling turned into ACTION is a powerful experience.”
The ripple effect of Jill, Laura and Meredith’s actions is hard to measure, and not just in the amount of donations they’ve secured. By speaking up, they’ve inspired countless others to take action, small or large.
Right now, there is need in many places along the border that changes shape and severity as the government policies change. The entire border is being affected by the MPP (Remain in MX) policy, which sends asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait.
In El Paso, Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville, most asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico under MPP, so now there is need directly on the other side of the border for those same people. If you’d like to learn more about how to help:
Team Brownsville goes across the bridge into Matamoros daily to feed and give supplies to the asylum seekers: https://www.teambrownsville.org/
Angry Tias and Abuelas helps at the bus station in Brownsville and across the river in Matamoros: https://www.angrytiasandabuelas.com/
Help at the Texas Border offers general info on several locations: https://www.helpatthetexasborder.com/
Austin Border Relief Volunteers mobilizes via a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2353365288257102/
Mission: Border Hope in Eagle Pass is in dire need of volunteers.
As Jill says, “Thank you all so much for giving a damn, and remember that seeking asylum is not a crime.”