Tijuana – San Diego
Legal – Medical – Food
What to Bring – Crossing the Border
Enclave Caracol is an autonomous social center in Tijuana that serves as a hub for food and supply distribution for migrants in the caravan. Enclave is currently receiving more resources than volunteers can reasonably process, so they need attentive & self-sufficient volunteers to organize supplies with minimal guidance from organizers. Take a look at the list of needs below and imagine a way you, friends, and loved ones can get organized to address one or more needs. Here are their most recent requests:
We need volunteers that can organize meals, transportation of donations, and help with security / door at the building. We need tech help and plumbing/construction help. We have too many donations in the building and not enough support transporting them to Barretal and other shelters. We are receiving people all day that are looking for food, water, coffee, legal support, a safe place to sit down, clothes, blankets, a chance to charge a cell phone, medical attention, dental care, bathroom…all things that can be organized, but we are constantly being forced to negate these things because the very few volunteers here are completely overwhelmed. We can provide crash course training on what has worked and what hasn’t worked, but we need folks that can connect resources to needs without constantly relying on direction from organizers.Enclave Caracol
Virtually all hours there is work to do in the community kitchen, and we will be extending preparation to different facilities as well. If you have a flexible schedule and want us to contact you when you are needed most, please leave your phone number in a message. Volunteers are always welcome to show up at the kitchen.
Childcare will be needed in different locations, many near downtown but also in other neighborhoods. Volunteers are encouraged to coordinate with each other to develop activities for kids to participate in. Please provide a general idea of the hours you are available and your contact information in a message.
Many of the spaces hosting asylum seekers and volunteer efforts need repairs. Please get in contact with us and mention your experience and availability if you are able to help in this regard.
The key to providing meaningful support to vulnerable groups is organization. There will be many opportunities to help in volunteer coordination, sorting, moving and distributing donations, hosting excess donations until they are needed, transportation (vehicle support greatly appreciated), spreadsheets, emergency or short-term hosting of migrants, hosting volunteers in your kitchen or for the night, sharing updates, web support, general tech support, audio/video support.
Check out Enclave Caracol’s Facebook page for updates.
The Wound Clinic
For the past three years, a group of volunteers has been working side by side with Tijuana physician, Patricia Zuniga Gonzalez providing compassionate medical care to thousands of homeless people in Tijuana.
The clinic operates from the Enclave Caracol space, 2nd Floor. If you are interested in supporting this work, you can volunteer by contacting clinicawound [at] gmail.com.
Jardin de Mariposas (Centro de Rehabilitación)
Yolanda Rocha founded el Jardin over five years ago out of a labor of love. Most rehab centers discriminate against trans people, obligating them to cut their hair, dress according to their assigned gender, etc. El Jardin accepts and affirms people’s identities as well as helps them kick their addiction, find a job, and thrive. They also develop leadership skills of residents to become activists. Tijuana is still a largely homophobic and transphobic place– it’s one of the most conservative cities in Mexico. Because it is a rehab center, they are not able to house folks that are not in recovery. If you wish to make a donation, please email email@example.com or call 664 5292417 Yolanda will arrange a place for you to meet if needed. They are looking for:
- Fresh Food for cooking daily meals
- Hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, deoderant, cleaning supplies)
- Gently used Clothes & Shoes (for women and men).
- For someone to pay their monthly bills (can be one-time donation). Yolanda does not take cash, she insists on giving you the bill and having you go pay to corresponding agency)
Instituto Madre Asunta
Calle Galileo 2305, Buena Vista, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
This shelter is for cis-women and their children. They have 40 beds, but 140 people staying there. Here is what you can donate to them
- Mattresses (can be roll-up); buy locally if possible
- Bed Clothes, blankets,
- Gently used Clothes & Shoes for women and children ages 0-17
- New Underwear and socks
- Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices.
- They might take cash donations
Casa Del Migrante
Address: Calle Galileo 239, Postal, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Directly across the street from Instituto Asunta, this is a cis-men shelter. Some of the men have partners and kids staying at Asunta. Here is what you can donate to them
- Bed Clothes, blankets,
- Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices,
Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava
For almost 20 years, this place has offered meals to migrants coming through Tijuana. My understanding is that they offer food to anyone that comes in and is respected by many people, including LGBT leaders.
San Diego, California
Centro Cultural de la Raza
Centro Cultural de la Raza is collecting and sorting donated supplies, and serving as an organizing hub for support work based in San Diego. They have regularly scheduled hours for supply drop-offs, and often need volunteers to help sort donations and deliver supplies across the border.
“Despite the border being a highly surveilled & militarized zone, government jurisdiction often gets blurry. This dangerous combination of state forces increases the need for legal observers. Additionally, vast majority of the migrants from the Exodus want to seek asylum in the US, creating the unusual demand in a humanitarian crisis for many, many lawyers. ‘There is an ongoing need for people to travel to the border for the next several months, especially those who can stay weekdays, speak Spanish, are trained as NLG Legal Observers, or have experience with immigration and asylum law,” says a rep from the NLG. If you are considering coming as a legal observer, prepare by reading:
- a Legal Observer’s detailed account of Tijuana in early December: www.nlg.org/wp-content/plugins/civicrm/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=8609&qid=2405836
- a Legal Observer’s description of the work required at the border: www.nlg.org/refugee-caravan-a-legal-observers-report-from-tijuana/
- a Legal Observer’s account of the extrajudicial process controlling migrants’ access to asylum: communemag.com/the-list/
- and Al Otro Lado’s lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection: ccrjustice.org/home/what-we-do/our-cases/al-otro-lado
The following groups are also organizing a presence at the border. Get in touch with them, or come on your own terms.
Under the leadership of the Esto’k Gna (Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas), the Somi Se’k Village Base Camp’s mission is to populate and support a network of Front Line Encampents (Wolf Pack) villages along the so-called Mexican-American border. These villages will be active in:
- Providing aid to our asylum seeking relatives
- Protecting indigenous sacred sites
- Resisting construction of the LNG terminals in the Rio Grande Valley and its accompanying fossil fuel pipelines
- Stopping the Border Wall
Support the Somi Se’k Village Base Camp from a distance by sending them items from their Wish List
The Caravan Support Network is an autonomous group that brings together Water Protectors, Central Americans, Undocumented and Indigenous folks from across the Nation in hope to unify efforts to support the Exodus Caravan. We have all come together to reclaim our human right to migrate and legal right to Seek Asylum. They are helping to organize a presence at the border in San Diego, Nogales, El Paso, and Brownsville, and are also looking for people who can provide housing for volunteers in border cities.
If you want to link up with them at the border, sign up here
If you can provide housing for volunteers near border cities, sign up here
Sanctuary Caravan / New Sanctuary Movement
Meet the Migrants at the Border-Brownsville, TX was an event
facebook-organized in the winter of 2018. The link has since been disabled. Migrants continue to be waylaid at the international bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros. The Appeal reported on January 25, 2018,
Immigration advocates and migrants say that the officials solicit large bribes from migrants attempting to lawfully cross into the U.S. and request refugee status. When poor migrants can’t pay, the Mexican officials banish them from the bridges and onto the streets. Those streets are in the Mexican city of Matamoros, which is in Tamaulipas state, an area so dangerous that the U.S. State Department warns people not to travel there. Migrants in Matamoros are at risk of extreme violence including being kidnapped.
What to bring for yourself
- Basic sleeping set up: sleeping bag, sleeping pad
- Layers and clothes for different conditions—cotton is great for hot weather, but will not insulate in the cold, so consider bringing wool or synthetic layers
- Poncho/disposable rain jacket, some disposable clothes
- Notebook and pen, paper
- Paper maps
- At least one friend and a plan
- Emergency blanket
- Emergency contact number (friendly lawyer, legal support number, friend)
- Care & humility: don’t come expecting you know what needs to happen
- Creativity & courage: come prepared to act in creative & effective ways
Don’t travel alone, and do let friends elsewhere know what your plans are, how you will update them, and what they should do if they don’t hear from you when they expect to.
Make sure to carry at least 1 liter of water and a few energy bars/snacks with you everywhere you go; you never know what might happen, and should be prepared for an extended situation away from your vehicle/camp/whatever.
If you bring a cell phone, make sure it is encrypted and has a 6+ digit screen lock set; don’t even think about crossing the border with a phone that includes messages or a contact list. Consider getting a cheap burner phone and leaving your phone somewhere safe.
How to get a cell phone in Mexico:
Go to an Oxxo. Tell the person at the counter, “Quiero comprar un chip Telcel.” This means “I want to buy a Telcel SIM card.” Telcel generally seems to have the best coverage/it’s what I’m familiar with. It will be 149 pesos. Tell the attendant, “Le pone cien pesos de saldo por favor? En amigo sin limite.” “Could you put 100 pesos of airtime on it please? On the Amigo plan.” This will give you 23 days of unlimited calls and SMS to Mexico and the States, I think 1 gb of data strictly for whatsapp/FB/twitter, and 300 mb of data for whatever else. There are other options for varying amounts of money that you can look up on the telcel website. The attendant will put your new phone number into the computer and activate it/put the airtime on it after you pay them. They will probably ask you to check that the number is correct. The number is on the back of the packet the SIM card comes in. It is a 3-in-1 SIM/micro/nano card that will fit in any GSM phone. The SIM and airtime together will cost you the equivalent of $12.50 US.
Personal First Aid Kit
A few small items go a long way. In addition to the items below, make sure to bring a generous supply personal and prescription medications. If you’re bringing prescription medicines, it’s a good idea to bring the written prescription as well–the documentation may be critical in the event of searches or arrests by police or border patrol. Basic comfort items are important too: ibuprofen, chapstick, sunscreen, electrolyte drinks…
- Nitrile gloves
- Gauze pads
- Antibacterial ointment
- Medical/athletic tape
- QuickClot Gauze
- Squirt-top water bottle for the LAW (liquid antacid & water; 50% Maalox or other liquid antacid, 50% water, for flushing eyes in the event of chemical weapons
What to bring for others
- Menstrual supplies (pads, tampons, etc.); electrolyte drinks; basic first aid supplies
- Batteries and phone chargers
- Medical supplies
- Burner phones
- Know your rights literature in Spanish & English; basic legal resources and information
Considerations for crossing the border with donations
Taking donations from the U.S. to Mexico can be challenging. Custom in Mexico has a website which walks you through how to bring in donations.
If you are bringing donations across the border, consider the possibility that you might be turned back, or, in the worst case scenario, have your donations confiscated. You may draw less attention to yourself if you bring donations in your trunk, or in luggage instead of plastic garbage bags.
You can also support the local economy by purchasing items in Mexico. Large-scale humanitarian donations can sometimes wreck local economies; if you’re able to bring cash and buy supplies locally, please do–especially considering the growing tensions between Mexican nationalists and the exodus in Tijuana.
You can directly donate to organizations on the ground in Tijuana.