Migrants are risking their lives crossing multiple international borders to reach the United States
“Between January and August of this year (2022), 67% of the migrants that have crossed the border with Panama, are Venezuelan nationals,” said Carlos Camargo, Colombian Ombudsman. In the last eight months of the year, 68,575 Venezuelan migrants have crossed the Darien Gap, according to data from the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office.
On September 21 and 22, a delegation from AID FOR AIDS visited the Lajas Blancas and San Vicente immigration reception points in Darién, Panama, to coordinate efforts and support the Panamanian government in this challenge. International cooperation agencies, community-based and faith-based organizations also joined the visit, aiming to participate in this synergy and work together for the migrant and refugee population.
Among the testimonies and experiences collected from the migrants was the case of a 22-years-old Venezuelan man who approached our team asking for help to rescue his stepfather, who got stuck in the jungle due to the deep exhaustion of crossing this path. While this was happening, a group of migrants arrived at the reception point, overheard the conversation and approached, informing that his family member had died. All this happened in a noisy, unhealthy and nonconfidential environment, in an unsympathetic manner, without the necessary tools to provide emotional support.
This tragic testimony, along with others about famine, sexual assault, death and robbery, will accompany the migrants on their journey to the southern border of the United States, only to face the political battle that awaits them there. Since April 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has bussed more than 14,000 migrants to New York City, which has the nation’s only right-to-shelter law requiring the city to house anyone in need. 6,700 are still in shelters, including 1,000 children.
City officials, with the help of nonprofits organizations, have mobilized and set up a receiving area at Port Authority Bus Terminal. Once migrants arrive, they receive medical attention and rapid COVID-19 tests, food, clothing, prepaid phones, toiletries, legal assistance and transportation to temporary shelter.
AID FOR LIFE has been welcoming this new community and helping with much-needed resources like clothing and shoes. On Saturday, September 24, we held our Second Health and Services Fair for all those immigrants who have arrived in the big city, helping them prepare for the upcoming winter season, giving them coats to protect themselves from the cold they have yet to meet . On Saturday alone, we received almost 1,000 migrants. Thanks to the participating organizations, we also provided information on health, work and legal services.
If you would like to donate your money, clothes or your time, so we can continue helping this new community, please contact Alicia Molina at AMolina@aidforaids.org