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Backpacks of Hope on the US-Mexico Border

“The border response has just been absolutely incredible.”

On a recent Tuesday, our teammate Jen joined the weekly staff call to share a report on the distribution of backpacks at the US-Mexico border—backpacks that you supplied.

We asked you to help provide basic necessities for asylum seekers, those who have fled countries like Honduras, Columbia, Uganda, and Haiti—because of extreme situations like violence or economic devastation. Asylum applicants leave the processing center in El Paso with nothing to get them through their earliest days in the United States. You filled that gap.

You provided enough backpacks to fill every flat surface. Photo by William Price III/Preemptive Love
Sorting socks and underwear at an El Paso, TX shelter. Photo by William Price III/Preemptive Love

“We were able to provide basic essentials for 1,500 individuals, which is everyone in shelters currently in El Paso. And we also have enough supplies to support migrants who will be crossing in the upcoming week.”

Each backpack contained a set of basic supplies, including refillable water bottles, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hairbrush, and snacks. But each backpack was also customized for each recipient, including toys for kids, and socks and underwear in an appropriate size.

Every asylum applicant leaves the processing center overwhelmed. They are exhausted, afraid, and unsure of the next steps. They are utterly vulnerable.

You put very practical relief into their hands. You gave them supplies to feel refreshed and able to face another day. And at the most practical level, you gave them a backpack to safely carry the paperwork that is the key to every step forward in the asylum system.

What’s next?

The US government recently put into place a new policy requiring asylum seekers to wait outside the US border before beginning an asylum claim. As a result, the number of newcomers has dropped drastically—and the numbers of families desperate to find a safe place to land is rapidly growing on the Mexico side of the border.

In the last few days, there were reports that millions of dollars in humanitarian aid the US government designated for Central America will be redirected to the political opposition in Venezuela, the total number of refugees accepted into the US in 2019 would be lowered from 45,000 to 30,000, and that going forward few asylum seekers would be allowed through the US southern border.

The result of these proposed changes? Less aid available to help those in need stay in their home country, and tens of thousands of desperate humans with nowhere to go. Closing the US southern border to legal means of claiming asylum will not stop the need for safety.

We’re not turning our backs on those put in hopeless situations because of violence. We’re looking south, following the frontlines like we always have—first with heart surgeries, then during the wars in Iraq and Syria, and now with asylum seekers.

Stay tuned for news about how you’re helping in Mexico, and ways you can continue to love beyond borders.

Continue to stand in the gap for our friends at the border.