What We Do

In Sending Countries

Most migrants and refugees on the route to the US have left their homes due to one or more of the following factors: extreme poverty, generalized violence, organized crime and gang recruitment, prolonged climate crisis, political repression, and other threats to their personal safety, sexual abuse, and partner violence. When governments cannot guarantee life and security, people are forced to leave.

 

Franciscans in sending countries assist migrants with information, support and guides that will reduce their risk on the journey. They provide information on resources that can be found on the route.

Returning deportees are provided with mental health and pastoral care, and re-integration assistance.

In Transit Countries

Mexico has stringent immigration policies that are not amicable to refugees and asylum seekers. The recent mass exoduses (so called “migrant caravans”) have demonstrated that Mexico cannot sustain massive movements of people through its territory. Human Rights First reports that, “Refugees face grave risks in Mexico due to kidnappers, traffickers, brutal violence, and alarming deficiencies in Mexico’s migration system which put them at grave risk of persecution.” Constant changes in policy towards migrants in countries of transit has a destabilizing impact on institutions that serve migrants on the route.

Franciscans and Franciscan-hearted people in transit countries assist with information, support and guides that will reduce their risk on their journey. They provide information on resources that can be found on the route. They provide human rights and legal support, and many provide shelter and hospitality.

In Border Regions.

La Familia Franciscana en regiones fronterizas ayuda a las personas con información, apoyo y guías que reducirán su riesgo en el viaje. They provide information on resources that can be found on the route. They provide human rights and legal support, and many provide shelter and hospitality.

United States

The epicenter of capture, detention and deportation in the United States remains in its border region, a 2,000-mile long division between the US and Mexico. The United States has been deporting between 300,000 and 450,000 undocumented people per year for the past 10 years. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency reports that approximately 400,000 migrants were captured in 2018, a number that represents the downward trend from a maximum of 1,600,000 in the year 2000. These figures show that what is happening in the Frontier is less a political crisis than a humanitarian crisis. This humanitarian crisis is marked by new phenomena:

  • The growing number of people applying for asylum (55,584 in 2017 to 93,959 in 2018).
  • A growing capture of individuals and families at ports of entry, particularly those seeking asylum.
  • The new program, “Stay in Mexico,” which sends asylum seekers who have crossed without documents to Mexico to await their award.
  • The reduction in the number of asylum cases processed each day, a strategy called “metering”.
  • Detentions of unaccompanied minors, a number that reached more than 11,000 in 2019.
  • Reports leaked from detention centers that illustrate children living in miserable conditions, general neglect, poor medical care and severe psychosocial trauma. Several children have died while in detention.
  • Among the most controversial, in the spring of 2018, thousands of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border as part of a “zero tolerance policy” that prosecuted anyone who has crossed irregularly.
  • The constant solicitation of funds and political support to build the concrete wall on the southern border, and the fun of funds from other projects for the wall, a plan that simply is not economically viable and would cause an environmental and cultural destruction without precedent to the region.

Mexico.

Mexico’s southern border region is now militarized and immigration processing and holding stations, guarded by the Federal and Military Police like high-security prisons, are at 3 or 4 times their capacity. Reports of family separations are starting to leak out, and mass deportations from the region are in progress. Immigration authorities violate the right of access to information, denying the right to seek refuge and violating the principle of no return for refugee populations. Extortion and robbery of migrants on the migratory routes by the Federal Police and the Army is becoming more common, and violent crime against people in transit is increasing. Migrants who make it to the US/Mexico border face all of the above again, and more. This territory with its brutal desert climate is controlled by drug cartels, organized crime, and smugglers, and is now also highly militarized on the Mexican side. En el lado estadounidense, los campos de detención se llenan a menudo 5 veces su capacidad, las familias se separan y los seres queridos a menudo se pierden en el proceso. Los informes sobre las condiciones brutales, la agresión sexual, la falta de atención médica, las muertes en los campos, especialmente de niños, han causado indignación en los Estados Unidos y han puesto en tela de juicio el carácter moral de los Estados Unidos como país y hacia dónde se dirige todo esto.

In Destination and Deportation Countries

Cuando los migrantes y refugiados llegan a los Estados Unidos, se enfrentan a políticas y prácticas hostiles de inmigración, redadas, amenazas de deportación, separación familiar, discriminación y una gran cantidad de otros desafíos. A menudo terminan siendo deportados, sólo para comenzar todo el proceso nuevamente.

La Familia Franciscana en los Estados Unidos ayuda a las personas con información referencial, alojamiento temporal, servicios legales y otro tipo de apoyo. También participamos activamente en actividades de promoción para cambiar las leyes y exigir la adhesión a los acuerdos de Derechos Humanos que protegen a los migrantes y refugiados.