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Bay Area activists aid migrant caravan

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Back to Article

Bay Area activists aid migrant caravan

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

By Erika Martinez, STAFF WRITER

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It has been estimated that roughly 7,000 people, which includes 2,300 children, have joined one of the four refugee caravans that are headed to the U.S. to seek asylum, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
On Oct. 24, Bay Area activists began to organize a trip to meet and provide support to the Central American participants in the migrant caravans.
The caravans began on Oct. 12 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and are comprised of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and some from Nicaragua with intent to escape from a historically corrupt governments, poverty, violence, sexual abuse and gangs to seek asylum in the U.S., according The Guardian. The movement rapidly gained attention through a flier that was posted on social media which read: “Walk of the migrant, we’re not leaving because we want to, the violence and poverty forces us to.”
President Donald Trump said on Nov. 1 that the United States will not be providing asylum for those in the caravan headed for the Southern Border.
“Asylum is not a program for those living in poverty. There are billions of people in the world living at the poverty level, the United States cannot possibly absorb them all,” said Trump in regard to the immigration crisis. “Asylum is a very special protection intended only for those fleeing government persecution based on race, religion and other protected status.”
Beauty Botanica, a hair salon and artist collective space in Downtown Oakland has taken matters into their own hands and have collected donations for the migrant caravan.
The group announced their plans to directly aid the caravan at the border through social media and have received a variety of donations from the community, such as, water, food, clothes, hygiene products and utilities.
The Beauty Botanica activists drove from Oakland to the California-Mexico border during the week of Thanksgiving to distribute the donations.
“We’re autonomous artists and activists, we’re not working for a non-profit, we don’t have an institution behind us, it’s just us,” said undocumented artist and activist from Beauty Botanica, Nicolas Gonzalez Medina.
“Being a daughter of immigrants, I just didn’t want to sit on the side and be silent while all of this is happening because it’s important for us to get involved,” said artist and activist Christabel Ramirez.
Migrants have been continuously arriving to the Tijuana, Mexico – San Diego, U.S. border since Nov. 11, according to BBC.
The Benito Juarez sports complex in Tijuana, Mexico has become a shelter as they wait to apply for asylum in the U.S, but it may take up to six weeks to claim asylum. The sports complex has reached its limits in sheltering more than 5,800 migrants with more waves of caravans still expected to arrive, according to CNN. The state is currently working on opening another shelter.
Crossing the U.S. border has become the most challenging in comparison to the Guatemala – Mexico border for the migrant caravan.
President Trump has stationed up to 9,000 armed forces at the border and signed a proclamation on Nov. 9 that denies migrants who enter illegally to apply for asylum for up to 90 days.
On Nov. 24, during a confrontation in an attempt to cross to the U.S., migrants were tear gassed by US border patrol agents. Chaos emerged as men, women and even children ran away to avoid asphyxiation from the tear gas.
The Tijuana police officers reported 39 arrests of migrants for disturbance during the event and 69 migrants were arrested in California once they crossed, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan.

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Bay Area activists aid migrant caravan