As the Borderland began to see the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community and closures and social distancing orders were put in place, many in our community struggled with the economic repercussions that exacerbated the psychological toll that already came with these new regulations. While some received federal aid and were able to alleviate some of this economic stress, there were thousands of families that were left out.
Although the U.S. Government approved the CARES Act, which provided stimulus checks to some households, it largely excluded many Borderland communities. This, combined with the inability to work or loss of jobs, created a significant need in our communities that was not being addressed. As more and more families began to feel the pressure and desperation of not being able to provide for their families, pay utilities, and provide housing, Mexicanos en Exilio, through extensive conversations with other organizations, decided to strategize ways in which we could help alleviate some of these hardships. This led to the creation of the COVID-19 Borderland Mutual Assistance Fund and, on April 30, 2020, Mexicanos en Exilio was the first local non-profit to launch a fund dedicated to helping families that were being excluded from the CARES Act funding and other available local funding. Thanks to Hope Border Institute, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Las Americas Immigrant Right Advocacy and Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, we were able to extend the outreach of the fund.
One week after the launch, we began to accept applications from families along our region who were in urgent need of assistance. Within days we began to process the applications and begin distributing the money. We have been able to cover multiple utilities and rent for people from all over the borderland. To date, the fund has been able to provide assistance to a number of people, most of which are single mothers. This highlights the very real need from our communities. Our fund is open to anyone living in the borderland and the application process is simple.
Although we’ve been able to help many families through the generosity of the community, as an organization, we understand that our local elected officials need to step in and also take care of our communities by allocating money to help all families, including those that were excluded from the CARES Act funding. Prior to launching our fund, we were involved in discussions with elected officials in county and city offices to discuss the urgent need that exists from Borderland families. Mexicanos en Exilio came together with with El Paso Community Foundation, Paso del Norte Foundation, Project Bravo, Hope Border Institute, Las Americas Immigrant Rights Advocacy Center, Diocesant Migrant & Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, and other local non-profit organizations to form a coalition of local non-profits to collectively fight for these communities. Through participation in public comments on several County Commissioners and CIty Council meetings, we have worked to advocate for funding to assist these vulnerable families.
Still, we know that even with the current support from our local government the need exceeds the assistance made available today. We, and this coalition, will keep working so that everyone gets the help they need during this pandemic. In the meantime, the Mexicanos en Exilio COVID-19 Borderland Mutual Assistance Fund will continue to receive donations so that we may continue to help families who need it and cannot get assistance from anywhere else.
To donate to the fund: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/covid-19borderlandassistance
Our website: https://www.mexenex.org/