When I was traveling in Mexico and the borderlands researching for American Dirt, nothing surprised me more than the preponderance of HOPE among people who endure so much hardship. That is what the United States of America still represents to the people who risk everything to get here. So many good people in the US and Mexico are deeply committed to protecting refugees in their most vulnerable moments; these folks are out there just quietly saving lives every single day. If you are moved to do so, please support them however you can.
Water Stations is a tiny organization operating on a shoestring budget and doing the most fundamental humanitarian work. Laura Hunter sat down with me when I was in San Diego to tell me about their mission: on summer weekends, they drive to remote parts of the desert where migrants have died. They leave water supplies in hopes that so no one will die in those places again.
The American Friends Service Committee is doing great work to support human rights along both sides of the US Mexico Border, and their San Diego Program Director, Pedro Rios, was incredibly generous in helping me to plan and implement my research. I also recently met with one of their interns, Mariana Martinez, who worked tirelessly (and victoriously!) to shut down the child detention center in Homestead, Florida.
Social safety nets are limited and overtaxed in Mexico, so orphaned children count on people like Cesar Uribe to be their family. Cesar and his wife are raising dozens of kids, and they all call him Papa. The day I spent with them remains one of the most moving experiences of my life.
This is another casa para niños just steps from southern California, where the kids are well taken care of, thanks to Misael Morelos Quezada and his family. Misael posts lots of pictures and videos on their Facebook page so you can see right where your donations go, to those smiles.
The Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava is a soup kitchen in Tijuana where they serve a delicious hot breakfast to something like 300 migrants every day. I volunteered there, and was blown away by both the work ethic and cheerful demeanor of all the staff.
The heroes at Casa Cornelia Law Center provide pro-bono legal representation to kids who come to the US alone seeking asylum. When I visited them, their youngest client was two years old.
This is the companion migrant shelter in Tijuana for women and children, right down the street from the men’s shelter above. And don’t be fooled by the sweet face of that smiling nun on the homepage. She is a straight up soldier in the fight for human decency. Sister Adelia will throw down in defense of these women and children. She will put your donation to work.
These people I did not visit, but I’ve since become aware of the crucial work they’re doing in the desert, and the fact that our government is prosecuting them for saving lives.