Overseeing the latest “Caravan of Love” to aid migrants in Tijuana, Enrique Morones said: “Two weeks ago, the Border Patrol tear-gassed children at the border. And just a few days ago they killed a 7-year-old girl.”
A dozen vehicles destined for shelters left the Border Angels offices in Sherman Heights. Last week, the nonprofit dispatched 45 or 46 cars, he said.
“We’ve got to stand up to that,” executive director Morones said of U.S. actions and policies, “and resist it by doing these types of actions.”
Among the volunteers was Cristina Malo, an English language development teacher at Sweetwater High School in National City.
“Your heart is either open or it’s not,” Malo said. “You either see what humanity needs or you don’t.”
Rather than to feel “stuck or disempowered,” she said she does what she can to change lives. She’s helped with desert water drops and other Border Angel efforts in the past.
“Outside of my work, I think: What can I do what’s in my control that allows me to stay positive and hopeful?” she said.
Morones, the Border Angels founder, recalled a televised debate Friday with a former Missouri governor.
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The Border Patrol is trying to say it did everything possible, he said, “and I said that’s not true. A visual inspection is not a medical checkup. They didn’t realize she didn’t have any water, that she had been under stress.”
Before asking for a moment of silence, Morones accused the Trump administration of trying to blame the girl’s father.
“The father had a choice of having her stay in Guatemala and maybe dying … because of violence or hunger, or taking her to someplace where he thought she’d be safe,” he said. “What happens? She dies in the custody of Border Patrol.”
By his count, 11,000 people have “died because of that wall,” he said.
He said the current caravan is the third major influx in the past couple years — typical of others in history.
“Caravans have happened since the beginning of time — as the Jewish people who left Egypt or the stagecoaches crossing from the East Coast to the West Coast. The Pinta, the Santa Maria,” he said. “They go in groups for safety.”
Morones said this group is fleeing hunger, which he noted is not a case for asylum.
“But whether they’re fleeing hunger or violence or ecological disaster, you have a right to flee,” he said. “You have a right to try to survive. It’s a universal human right.”
Border Angels serves nine shelters with more than 4,000 immigrants from Central America, Africa and Haiti.
A new shelter — a two-story warehouse with a capacity of 500 people — was set up near the Benito Juarez sports center that was flooded earlier this month. It began accepting migrants Saturday, said Hugo Castro, Border Angels coordinator of efforts in Tijuana.
That new shelter has indoor and outdoor bathroom facilities and a shower, he said.
Hunger is a problem at the shelters because there isn’t enough food to go around, he said.
In addition, one shelter, Embajadores de Jesús, is hard to reach because of recent flooding, Castro said.
According to Castro, items most needed at the shelter are small bottles of hygienic items, socks and underwear for men, women and children and bras.
Items donated recently include sleeping bags, tarps, tents, inflatable mattresses, canned food, wipes, diapers and clothing.
An agreement has been reached with the Mexican Consulate of San Diego and the Mexican Border agents, which has resulted in lower customs fees for bringing the items across the border, Castro said.
People interested in donating can contact Border Angels at (619) 269-7865 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A GoFundMe page that’s raised more than $31,000 ccan be found here. Or go to the Walmart registry to buy items for Border Angels.