On President’s Day weekend, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Curren D. Price, Jr. partnered with SALEF to lead a humanitarian aid delegation to Tijuana, where we visited nine dfferent shelters. Our delegation included Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero, El Rescate, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA), St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, and Equality California. We also collaborated with Sergio Infanzon and Comite de Mejicanos Migrantes in this effort to bring humanitarian aid and assistance to our brothers and sisters in Tijuana.
This robust coalition shows that the humanitarian pipeline from Los Angeles to Tijuana is alive and well. Los Angeles has a special interest in showing compassion, support, and respect for migrant communities. Los Angeles is a city of immigrants. From Koreatown and Thai Town to the Salvadoran Corridor and Little Armenia, the city has always be seen as a destination and a beacon of hope for migrants abroad. Many immigrants come to Los Angeles specifically because of the large and diverse community of families located in the City of Angels. In fact, outside of El Salvador, Korea and Armenia, Los Angeles hosts the largest populations of Salvadoran, Korean, and Armenian people. Helping refugees awaiting asylum is exactly what Los Angeles residents want.
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is the Chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr. is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee. Both play a crucial role in finding employment and shelter for Angelenos. Their work in Tijuana is an extension of that privilege and responsibility, especially for those migrants that may find their way to Los Angeles.
February is Black History Month, which inspired this visit’s focus on the most vulnerable minority populations in Tijuana, including Haitian migrants as well as the LGBTTTI (Lesbiana Gay Biisexual Transexual Transgenero Trasvesti Intersexual) community. We delivered food, clothes, and provided medical screenings to shelters supporting these communities. We also brought assistance to Central American migrants awaiting their chance to make a claim for asylum and Mexican citizens experiencing homelessness.
Read on for details and pictures of this incredible, collaborative effort to deliver humanitarian aid and show solidarity with so many communities.
On Sunday, after ensuring we had all the critical items on our shopping lists, our first stop in Tijuana was Costco. There we purchased approximately $1,400 worth of food and supplies for two shelters, including a pizza lunch for Central American migrants and Mexicans experiencing homelessness.
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and SALEF Executive Direct Jocelyn Duarte reviewing the shopping list for Instituto Madre Asunta.
From Left to Right: The team including Xochilt Sanchez (Organizer, CARECEN), Jasmin Natalie (Academic and Education Program Manager, SALEF), Jocelyn Duarte (Interim Executive Director, SALEF), Stephanie Lemus (Director of Outreach and Organizing, Clínica Monseñor Romero), Professor Celia Simonds (California State University Northridge), Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, and David Giron (Vice President, SALEF) with Costco food and aid purchase totalling $1,400.
Then we loaded up and headed out to the shelters.
Instituto Madre Asunta
Our first shelter stop on Sunday was Instituto Madre Asunta. This shelter is dedicated to serving women and children in need, many of whom have come from Central America seeking asylum. Our donations to this shelter included supplies specifically for infants and young children.
During our time at Madre Asunta, we reunited with staff from one of our partners, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. St John’s and Clinica Romero serve as our medical experts, bringing medicine and doctors to Tijuana, including specialty providers for particularly severe or complex medical issues. Both of these organizations offer services to migrants of all backgrounds, treating anyone in need including Mexicans experiencing homelessness.
Delegation members including Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, SALEF Interim Executive Director Jocelyn Duarte, and SALEF Jasmin Tobar meet with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center staff at Instituto Madre Asunta.
Outside of Instituto Madre Asunta we also delivered pizza for lunch.
La Viña de Tijuana
Next, we visited La Viña de Tijuana and donated food and supplies. This shelter is now about serving approximately 70 people a day.
Team Price from Council District 9, Mike Castillo (Executive Director of the Business Resource Center) and Jose Ugarte (Field Deputy) carrying donations.
Rick Zbur (Executive Director, Equality California), Councilmember O’Farrell, Antonio Soto Aguirre (La Viña volunteer), and Councilmember Price delivering food donations.
Before lunch, we visited Hotel Migrante. This shelter is a dilapidated space that used to have no running water, sewage infrastructure, or electricity. It lacked even the most basic accommodations, yet many people seek refuge in the shelter because it is a safe space. For them, it is better to live there with a roof in almost freezing temperatures then to stay outside on the concrete with no protection from weather elements.Sergio Infanzon and the Comite de Mejicanos Migrantes (the Committee of Mexican Migrants) are working to improve the space in what is now a shared projected with our coalition.
Here the members of our coalition are taking a tour of Hotel Migrante. Those pictured include: Councilmembers Price and O’Farrell, Sergio Infanzon, Chaparrastique Cativo, and Rick Zbur (Executive Director, Equality California).
Shelter in Little Haiti
After lunch, we headed to a shelter that primarily serves black migrant families from Haiti, as well as from Venezuela and other parts of South and Central America. This shelter is in an area known as “Little Haiti.”
We worked directly with shelter staff to bring beds and tents to families with nowhere to go as they wait for their chance to seek asylum in the United States.
Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr. at the shelter in Little Haiti
Our last stop on Sunday was Jardin Mariposas (Garden of Butterflies). Equality California joined us for this special visit where we listened to accounts of the unique challenges facing the LGBTTTI community in Tijuana and expressed our support for this community.
The team demonstrates solidarity with Equality California and Jardin Mariposas. Those pictured include Rick Zbur – Executive Director of Equality California, Samuel Garrett-Prate – Communications Director Equality California, and Councilmembers Curren D. Price Jr. and Mitch O’Farrell.
El Desayunador: Padre Chava
On Monday, we visited El Desayunador: Padre Chava which serves over 1,600 people daily as both a food bank for the shelter in Tijuana, including members of the Central American Caravan. We delivered food, hygienic supplies, clothes and medical services in collaboration with Clinica Monseñor Romero.
Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Curren D. Price Jr. taking medical supplies to the doctors giving medical screenings at El Desayunador: Padre Chava.