More from the Southern Border by A-Chuck Allen
I am writing this articled from the El Paso Airport. The President is flying in and while I respect the office, POTUS is messing up my airspace and departure time!
I spent a few hours in Juarez, Mexico yesterday. I walked across the bridge from El Paso to Juarez and within five steps realized why people from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras try anything to get into the United States. I visited a few shelters and saw what is in store for the folks that are awaiting their NTA (Notice to Attend). The NTA is a good indicator of their qualification to claim asylum in the States. Like him, hate him, or just cannot take the tweets, this administration has opened doors for faith communities to step in and help more than any administration than I have been aware of in my short 59 years on this planet.
As folks say, the proof is in the pudding. And here is the latest from the Southern Border of these great United States of America:
- The guy in the picture above is Chief Clay Thomas of the El Paso Border Station #1. He’s a 25 year veteran of the Border Patrol. I’ve seen this guy interact with the Border Agents and Migrant families. I have tangibly felt the character, competence and commitment he brings to the job. I want to vote for him! This dude is all that is right with America. He loves baseball, he’s a family man, he’s a straight shooter and he’s the right man for what we need on the border! He’d make a great President, but then he’d have to take a demotion from his role. Here’s to you, Clay!
- The administration’s MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol) is working. The threatened tariffs have forced the Mexican government to create a very nice shelter that can house some three-thousand people that have expedited notices to appear to plead their case for asylum. I visited that shelter on Tuesday while in Juarez, Mexico. I saw the food that they were being served by Mexican soldiers and it looked great. According to the folks in the shelter, “it was really good.” The people in the shelter are comfortable, safe and well cared for. They can only be there for two weeks before they either have their NTA or need to seek shelter elsewhere on the Mexican side of the border. That’s where the breakdown occurs. But there are faith groups, churches and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) that are trying their best, but they need a lot of help. They need food, clothings, necessities and they need on-mission churches (stateside) to come to their little spot in this world and help make their stay productive (as in training them in real-world skills), comfortable (as in air conditioning, clean water, food, diapers, beds and generators), and meaningful (as in showing them the love of the Divine). Many of these folks are already returning to their home countries and the Mexican Department of Immigration (IOM) is delivering these folks as far as they can (Guatemala). Many will await their NTA, and many will be placed on US soil and discover a new community and the experience of living in the greatest country on the planet. It’s not ideal yet, but it is a far greater situation than just a few short weeks ago.
- Families are only separated when they are proven to not be a family at all, the parent is a know felon with proven criminal activity, or the child/parent has a viral sickness, and that is temporary. To continue that line of political positioning is unfounded and irresponsible. But we can help by assisting the families that are placed on US soil and our friends at Care Portal are preparing a Border database that will allow families in the States (connected to churches) temporarily “adopt” these folks and meet their needs as they get acclimated to a new way of life. This is a joint effort with Care Portal, Operation Border Blessing, Sugar Hill Church and the United States Health and Human Services in Washington. I have found that all of these parties are committed to discovering long-tern solutions. When people claim that the church cannot work side by side with our governmental agencies, that’s just a lie. They are working with us. I’ve been on multiple telephone and zoom video calls putting this in place. They are no different than me and you. They just want us to offer some gratitude for what they do and help them to succeed.
- The city of El Paso is in a state of shock and grief following the shootings last Saturday. After spending a few hours with victims at University Hospital, I stopped by “ground Zero (Walmart) and there were still hundreds of people there with flowers, candles and objects that, in some way, were conveying their deep sorrow. It was reverent and respectful. As you looked over the hill into the parking lot, it was startling to see the remaining cars of the victims parked in what feels and smells like a place where death resides.
- My time of prayer and grief counseling included a family of three survivors. A daddy that had attempted to hide his wife and nine-year old daughter in a small office when the madman chased them down and shot all three. The dad is still in ICU and is touch and go. The wife had additional surgery and the little girl is still healing from her wounded thigh. This dad did what daddy’s are supposed to do…protect his family. The family is from Chihuahua, Mexico, some four hours from this Walmart. They had come to visit family in Juarez and shop a bit at Walmart and then head back to Chihuahua. Now, they face months of hospital recovery and rehab. My assurance to them was that the CHURCH would step up and make certain that they would be cared for. While I was with them, Pastor Paula White called and assured them with the same comfort and prayed with us all. More details on how you can help with that next week.
- I was able to visit two of the Border Stations in the El Paso Region, agaion and I am happy to report that the numbers are still higher than the old normal, but are manageable to yje new normal, and the Border Patrol have done a great job. While at the centers, the agents displayed some of the biometric tests, document proofs and DNA rapid results. Not only did it amaze me, it shows the degree of commitment that while there is still so much to do, our Border Agents are doing a great job. Did I mention that I’d vote for Chief Clay Thomas in a heartbeat?
I’ll share more about how we can all help next week, but for now, please pray for El Paso. They are reeling from the fear, the new normal and the fact that their typically safe West Texas town has been thrust into the national spotlight in the worst possible way.
There is so much to do and I am working with many in preparing a more comprehensive serve strategy that can assist Migrant Families, Border Patrol Families and all involved. In the meantime, please pray for this dear family. They are in need of our financial assistance to continue remaining together through this trial. The doctors have prepared them that they will need to stay in El Paso for at least 7 months. That’s a lot of meals, housing and expenses for a small Mexican family. If you would like to help this family, please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
One other encouraging word is that my good friend, Todd Lamphere has coordinated the efforts of the National Association of Christian Counselors to provide the spiritual, emotional and familial counseling and grief recovery counseling for any of the families that have been involved in this crisis, including the first responders.
Finally, I want to thank Sugar Hill Church! You folks are the most generous, gracious people ever! You have shared your pastor and your gifts with Migrant families, Border Patrol Officers, families in the midst of horrific grief and I am so grateful. I love you, Sugar Hill Church!
More to Come,