Your Health And Our Neighbors
Abara is carefully hosting Border Encounters (BE) through the ongoing pandemic. Abara abides by CDC and local government standards. While El Paso is curbing the pandemic, we recognize that local migrant farmers, essential workers, and neighbors are too often at high risk without adequate access to medical resources. Our Covid Policy:
To cross the border, one must be fully vaccinated, have a history of a documented COVID positive case, or have a negative test within 3 days prior to your visit.
Masks are frequently worn in El Paso and are required in Juarez.
Discretion: Please kindly consider our neighbor’s safety.
EP COVID FAQ’s are available here
Abara is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for children and youth in shelters and beyond. Abara is committed to protect children and youth from incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behavior. Under no circumstances may team members be alone with a minor behind closed doors or in a vehicle. Compliance by staff and volunteers is required. Failure to abide by this policy may result in dismissal from the team and actions are determined according to law.
ALCOHOL + SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Our guiding practice is: use good judgement. Celebration with alcohol is enjoyed when appropriate and according to the law. Employees and Team Leaders of Abara Borderland Connections are committed to a high standard of personal conduct. This provides for mature and thoughtful approach to the personal use of alcohol or the approval of its use in a group setting. Employees, Volunteers, and Team Leaders are expected to demonstrate good judgment and to err on the side of caution. Abara is also committed to cultivate safe environments for friends who struggle with alcohol, and Abara encourages sensitivity related to personal histories among those in recovery. Team leaders reserve the right to discern what is best for the group in nuanced circumstances.
WORSE CASE SCENARIOS
As we learn to read places, those places end up reading us. We want to avoid the “ugly American” attitude that too often precedes the reputation of the U.S. locally and abroad. We choose instead to enter spaces as guests. Abara centers the hopes, dreams, and concerns of neighbors who are local experts within their own communities. Asylum seekers demonstrate spiritual strength, resilience, and carry stories yet to be heard.
One aspect of cultural humility is our internal posture and our external dress. We invite teams to dress for the cultural context, role, or gathering. Please avoid wearing American flag t-shirts, camouflage, or slogans. We invite teams to come as listeners, neighbors, and learners as we enter spaces where people are carrying the realities of suffering and trauma.
Creating environments of trust, professionalism, and friendship are some of our guiding practices as a team. We honor one another as Team Abara leads across generations and gender lines. Abara categorically and unequivocally rejects racism and violence against anyone. This includes paternalism, xenophobia, nationalism, and sexualization of others. We respect the innate dignity of all people. Abara Staff and Volunteers strive to be people of the highest integrity. We want to avoid impropriety where attraction to another becomes a risk or compromise to the purpose of our Border Encounter (BE), or an unsafe situation for a member of our staff or your group.
Practically, Abara staff is committed to meetings in open-door and public settings with guests and Border Encounter groups. Meeting alone in a non-public area is avoided unless discerned in unique circumstances. We encourage team calendar transparency, discretion, and respect.
Worse Case Scenarios: If a Border Encounter attendee chooses not to honor team standards, they are at risk of forfeiting their participation and possible dismissal. The purpose of dismissal is to restore a team member to right relationship. An example of grounds for dismissal may include, but are not be limited to: inappropriate behavior, dishonoring local leaders, or consistently drifting from the group. In rare circumstances, the following steps guide Team Abara:
First Warning - informal (verbal)
Second Warning - formal (verbal and in writing)
Team Discernment - formal “pause” for 24 hours
Dismissal - formal dismissal or pause from team activities
Note - Depending on the severity of behavior or misconduct, any of the preceding steps may be skipped
Where can I learn more about the ever-evolving complexities of Immigration Policy?
Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as "Remain in Mexico" officially stopped taking new enrollments on January 20, 2021. When the program ended, there were over 70,000 people enrolled, the majority waiting in Mexican border towns from Brownsville all the way to Tijuana. In January 2021, there were an estimated 10,000 active cases in our sister city of Ciudad Juárez. More recently, the Biden Harris administration announced the return of Remain in Mexico - a devastating policy that forces vulnerable families, children and asylum seekers to navigate inhumane hurdles in dangerous conditions with little-to-no resources.
Title 42 (a pandemic-era CDC protocol instated March 2020) is still in effect and is turning away most asylum seekers who are not minors through a process called "expulsion", without opening a case for them at all. Exceptions are unaccompanied minors and families with young children arriving in the Rio Grande Valley. Title 42 also continues to keep the border closed to Mexicans with legal visas.
Unaccompanied minors are not automatically returned to Mexico. Instead they are taken into US custody temporarily, then placed in shelters exclusively for unaccompanied children in the US or Mexico, or released to sponsors (family or foster homes) while their cases are processed.
Is it safe to cross the border?
Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, sister city to El Paso, is a beautiful border city that has experienced various seasons of heartache, pain and violence over the last few decades. Despite some of its reputation, Ciudad Juarez is a vibrant city with a deep history, a mix of beautiful cultures, an active entertainment community, and strong business presence, much of which is tied to cross-border commerce. Millions pass through Ciudad Juarez each year without incident. Recent violence has almost exclusively been restricted to those with ties to gangs.
Occasionally, the most vulnerable within the migrant community are also at risk of violence, extortion, or labor trafficking as they have little access to high level connections or assistance. While personal safety cannot be guaranteed in any city, we have experienced no safety issues with our staff or visiting groups during any of the hundreds of trips across the border over the last few years. We rely on the wisdom of our partners and team members who live in Juarez, and we follow their leadership and direction during our Border Encounters.