Nonprofit Hosts Discussion on Refugees, U.S.-Mexico Border Relations
A group of Charlottesville volunteers working in Mexico to help those seeking asylum in the United States is sharing first-hand accounts.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group of Charlottesville volunteers working in Mexico to help those seeking asylum in the United States is sharing first-hand accounts.
On Tuesday, December 4, a Charlottesville nonprofit hosted a live chat with the team of lawyers, clergy, and advocates currently in Tijuana who are helping migrants understand their legal rights.
Tuesday night’s discussion was hosted by Building Goodness Foundation to give community members the chance to gain perspective on the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Conditions are quite terrible, really,” Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center said. “There are about 6,000 to 7,000 refugees who have arrived in the last few weeks, so it’s quite a large influx of people in a short period of time."
Several members of Charlottesville organizations made the journey to Mexico in the last week to provide legal advice to members of the migrant caravan, with most of them hoping to seek asylum in the United States.
"The group the Charlottesville crowd is working with - Al Otro Lado - is a nonprofit there doing amazing work providing legal services to people,” Bauer said.
Some people in Charlottesville got a first-hand look at efforts made by volunteers Tuesday night over Skype at Building Goodness Foundation.
"I think it’s definitely helpful for them to be aware,” Emily Martin of Building Goodness Foundation said. “I think it’s helpful for them to have access to experts to ask questions about what’s going on in the news in our world today."
Organizers hope BGF can be a safe space where members of the community can become informed on the issues.
“We have very active members of our community that are doing great work, we love to be a space for that to happen in, so we want people to feel free to come here, to ask questions, to be a space of communication and discussion,” Martin said.
Bauer just got back from Tijuana and says there are misconceptions about the migrant caravan.
She hopes Tuesday night's event helped inform members of the community who want to get involved.
"The thing that people asked me for more than anything else was diapers - just really concrete needs,” Bauer said. “These are not folks who are coming to do anything but to legally apply for asylum at our border."
Proceeds from the event will go toward a nonprofit that provides legal services to refugees in Tijuana.
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