A Bay Area group that includes at least two Coastsiders ventured to the South Texas border last week, offering help to the asylum seekers along with a 26-foot truckload of supplies to help sustain them on their journeys through the United States.
The 25 traveling members of the Bay Area Border Relief group hail from around the Bay Area and come with a variety of interests, says Lia Turk, a group member who participated in a previous humanitarian mission to the southern Texas border over the summer.
“The group is really a cross section of all kinds of people who care about these issues,” Turk said. “Educators, nurses, graduate students, professional counselors, community volunteers, philanthropists and interested citizens who think this is a worthwhile grassroots effort.”
Belinda Arriaga, founder of the Half Moon Bay nonprofit Ayudando Latinos a Soñar, was among the 25 who traveled to the Texas border last week. She was accompanied by a group of students from the University of San Francisco where Arriaga also teaches in the counseling and psychology department.
Arriaga and a selection of her students were also part of a similar humanitarian mission that took place at the Texas southern border in July. However, since then, the group has more than doubled.
Half Moon Bay resident Sheryl Young did not make the most recent journey to the border but was part of the original “McAllen 12” that went to the border in June with U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.
“We wanted to see for ourselves firsthand what was going on,” Young said. “I think it was much more shocking and stunning to see that this situation was happening in this small border town.”
Young noted the demand placed on the area nonprofits and how a large part of the mission was to take some of the pressure off of the local organizations by helping anyway that she could.
The donations delivered to the border last week consisted of clothing, shoes, toiletries, stuffed animals and coloring books that were collected, in part, through ALAS in Half Moon Bay as well as Hillsborough and the University of San Francisco.
In addition to providing support to the humanitarian respite center, the group was also scheduled to take part in a special “Compassion Caravan” march on Dec. 1. The seven-mile march spanned from a West Brownsville church to Casa Padre — an immigrant youth detention center — that houses 1,500 immigrant teenage boys in a repurposed Walmart. The purpose of the march, according to a release put out by the Bay Area Border Relief group, was to call attention to the plight of the forgotten incarcerated child migrants and that they be released to their family members who were awaiting asylum hearings.