Thursday, January 07, 2021

Border city applies lessons learned from last migrant wave to new assistance center

Juarez, Mexico officials are applying lessons learned during the last migrant wave in order to be prepared for the next one. That includes gathering all the service providers in a single space and avoiding keeping families with small children in waiting rooms where people come in and out all day. They’re preparing to relaunch a newly remodeled Migrant Assistance Center on the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte International Bridge. “In this building we’ll be able to serve not only migrants, but visiting lawyers and social workers, as well as representatives from labor, education and immigration agencies,” said Enrique Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua Population Council that runs the center. The facility in 2019 and part of 2020 was the gathering place for thousands of Cubans, Central Americans and other international citizens waiting in line to apply for asylum in the United States. The center kept a list of petitioners and coordinated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to let small, hand-picked groups walk over to the American side. Valenzuela recalls meeting up to 300 migrants a day in the old facility – a converted former tax collection office. “We had up to 50 people come in at a time, leave and another 50 would come in. We needed a more adequate building,” he said...MORE

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