CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville volunteer aid workers are providing their firsthand accounts of the conditions at our country's southern border. On Sunday night, Congregation Beth Israel hosted an attorney from the Legal Aid Justice Center, a law professor, and a licensed clinical psychologist who each spoke about how they are helping to fight what they call a crisis at the US-Mexico border.

All of the speakers spent time helping immigrants seek asylum.

Mira Levine a trauma counselor recently spent time helping at the U.S Mexico border and shared her stories of encouraging and supporting women and children asylum seekers.

"but she was somewhat encouraged when she heard that there are people in the US that care and that are standing up and speaking out against this policy,” said Mira Levine, trauma counselor.

Immigration service organizations working locally to help people seeking asylum were also at Sunday night's event instructing attendees on how they can help.

(Charlottesville, Va.) — Three Charlottesville residents who have done volunteer aid work directly with would-be migrants at the US-Mexico border in the past year will describe the problems and great suffering they found at a community forum being held this Sunday starting at 3:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 320 E. Jefferson Street. After the presentations, there will be a Q&A session, and then attendees will be able to meet with representatives of ten organizations working locally on various aspects of the immigration crisis. The event is free and open to the public.

The three speakers will be:

  • Kristin Clarens, an attorney and pro bono coordinator for Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) who has made and organized multiple migrant aid trips to the border;
  • David Baluarte, Associate Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University and an expert on immigration and human rights;
  • Shawn Gewirtz, a licensed clinical psychologist.

In addition to communicating the human costs of the current immigration crisis, the speakers will also address some of the government policy decisions that have brought the crisis to a head. 

“The U.S. government is preventing people from exercising their statutory right to seek asylum, and there are documented cases of Border Patrol agents forcing people back to the Mexico side of the border to wait on ‘the list’ in clear violation of the law,” said Prof. Baluarte.

The immigration services organizations staffing tables after the speakers conclude will be:

The event is sponsored by the Social Action Committee and Adult Education committees of Congregation Beth Israel.