California elected officials and coalition groups show solidarity with asylum-seekers
Honduran child migrant Gina keeps warm with a donated hood, outside the tent where her family of five is sleeping at an overflowing sports complex sheltering more than 5,000 Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, Nov. 28. As Mexico wrestles with what to do with the thousands of people camped out in the border city of Tijuana, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's government signaled Tuesday that it would be willing to house the migrants on Mexican soil while they apply for asylum in the United States, a key demand of U.S. President Donald Trump. | Rebecca Blackwell / AP

LOS ANGELES—At a press conference at City Hall on Nov. 15, Councilman Gil Cedillo, chairperson of the city’s Immigration and Human Rights Committee, indicated that a grave immigrant crisis was developing on our southern border inside Mexico. In contrast to White House claims that a military response was required, Cedillo said the crisis needed to met with humanitarian action.

Cedillo pointed out that thousands have come north from Central America, especially Honduras, to the border town of Tijuana. These “thousands have come to seek their legal right to asylum” because of the inhuman conditions that exist in their countries and because of fear for their lives individually and as families.

He said that the people in this caravan are products of U.S. policies implemented in their countries of origin and that they are victims of the hateful statements made by Donald Trump since he first began his campaign for the presidency. He stated this as one of the principle reasons areas like Orange County moved from deep red to deep blue in November’s elections. “It is a new day” after the elections, he said. “These immigrants deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The Trump rhetoric of hate leads to actions of hate and this must end.”

Enrique Morones, head of the group Border Angels, which has for years left water and food in the deserts to try and save the lives of immigrants dying of thirst while crossing between the United States and Mexico, said that love must replace hate in our approach to such questions because “love is stronger than hate.”

Morones also thanked Councilman Cedillo and Nativo Lopez, head of “Hermandad Mexicana,” for always being in and with the community and for joining in a call to help the caravan, which is primarily made up of Hondurans.

The actions of small groups that listen to hate rhetoric will be met with “words and actions based in love,” Morones said. As an example, he announced that medical doctors from UCLA and the University of Irvine, community medical personnel, legal volunteers, and Mexican lawyers in Tijuana, Mexico, were joining in a call to all to receive the caravaners in a show of solidarity, an action which took place on Nov. 24.

Los Angeles Council member Gil Cedillo, far left, speaks following an announcement on the fate of Temporary Protected Status for nationals of El Salvador, in Los Angeles, Jan. 8. Cedillo is now speaking out in solidarity with those migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border who are seeking to apply for asylum. | Damian Dovarganes / AP

Morones also said that Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum was also using harsh language of hate against the caravan. Last year, more than 8,000 died crossing borders around the world fleeing from places where they could no longer live in decency as human beings and without fear of death from their governments, economic conditions of poverty, and social conditions of government- and delinquent-organized violence.

“El amor no tiene frontiers [Love has no borders],” repeated Morones as he spoke of the children and mothers on the beaches close to Tijuana in shelters provided by sympathizers ranging from individuals to organizations and churches. In California, there are collection centers where people can take new blankets, new clothes, food, and toilet supplies for women and men. Water was not asked for because of the difficulty of its transport.

A powerful message from a woman who spoke included the phrase from the U.S. Declaration of Independence stating that all men are created equal. She made clear that the immigrants from Honduras are also created equally. The exodus from Honduras, she said, is due in large part to the living conditions that are the consequence of a coup that the U.S. supported. She went on to say that the coalition is asking for the U.S. troops sent to the border to be withdrawn. “This country was transformed by labor that came from many countries, and who can avoid the principle of labor?” she asked.

In closing, Morones said that the immigrant crossings at the border have been lower than ever and that this caravan was not an invasion but people fleeing their countries, some looking to settle in Mexico and others desiring to legally enter the U.S. LGTBQ immigrants were also part of the caravan and the LGBTQ community in the U.S. has offered support and solidarity for partner organizations in Mexico that are giving aid to those caravaners. Many of the immigrants in the caravan have no intention of leaving Mexico but hope to stay and make a life there away from the danger in their own countries of Central America.


CONTRIBUTOR

Ismael Parra
Ismael Parra

Ismael Parra is a writer and activist living in Los Angeles.

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