Caminar Contigo

Binational Border Response Program

JRS/USA and JRS Mexico are pleased to announce the start of a new program to respond to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people at our shared border. The new program, called Caminar Contigo, will aim to reduce suffering, improve mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, and to decrease violations to the legal rights for refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced people in the Cd. Juarez and El Paso region.

Our commitment through this program is to be with those who are seeking safety and security, it is to walk with you, caminar contigo.

 

Why a new program? 

For decades, refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons from around the world have arrived at the US-Mexico border seeking protection from harm in their home countries. Many originate from Central America, where widespread violence and instability has displaced those in search of a safe and dignified life. 

The long trek to the US is typically made on foot, or by bus, train, or truck. Many leave without knowing their destination, how to request asylum, or the risks inherent in their journey. It is estimated that the migrant population is 10,000-19,000 at any given time, and that nearly 25 percent are children.

JRS – registered both in the US and Mexico, with strong affiliations to several dozen service providers in the area – is particularly well positioned to meet the needs of these refugees. JRS’ vision is to implement a binational legal and MHPSS services program in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, two cities with some of the most frequent border crossings.

As an immigrant myself, I can understand the agonizing decision of leaving everything behind and venturing into an unknown and uncertain future. In my work, I look for opportunities to engage with those we serve and talk with them.
Maria Sajquim de Torres Caminar Contigo Program Manager

What will the program do?

The goal of the program is to reduce suffering, improve mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, and the decrease of violations to the legal rights for refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced people in the Cd. Juarez & El Paso region through the provision of information, support, and other legal and MHPSS services.

Program activities for the affected individuals and families in the in the U.S. supported from our El Paso office will include, but are not limited to:

  • psychological evaluation 
  • psychoeducational support groups and workshops
  • structured recreational activities for adults and children
  • provision of legal information and assistance to legal processes
  • accompaniment to those presenting to authorities when crossing the border. 
  • case management

Additional programming will be offered through a partnership with JRS Mexico in Ciudad Juarez. 

Equally important is the care afforded to the staff working with these individuals. Specialized training for the service providers, including psychological first aid, is a priority — as well as self-care strategies to manage stress, burnout, and trauma.

How will we do it?

Partnerships with local service agencies — specifically shelters and other legal service providers — will be a key element toward building a strong reputation and connecting with displaced persons in need of legal and MHPSS services. JRS/USA and JRS/Mexico will collaborate to ensure continuity and quality of services for asylum seekers of all walks of life, on both sides of the border.